US Shutdown: White House Talks Amid 'Progress'
Barack Obama has called congressional leaders to the White House for another round of talks aimed at extending the debt ceiling and ending the government shutdown.
The White House meeting initially was scheduled for†3pm EDT (8pm UK time), but was later postponed to give Senate leaders more time to resolve the impasse as both sides appeared to signal progress.
A new day or time for the latest White House talks has not been announced.
Vice President Joe Biden was expected to sit in on the discussions along with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
House Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi also are expected to take part in the meeting.
The White House said that with time running out until the US borrowing limit is reached on Thursday, Mr Obama will make clear the need for Congress to act.
The president is expected to remain firm on his vow not to be forced into concessions by conservative Tea Party House members.
''The president will also reiterate our principles to the leaders: we will not pay a ransom for Congress reopening the government and raising the debt limit,'' the White House said.
The mid-afternoon meeting comes as the Senate's top two leaders have attempted to take the reins in an effort to end the stalemate.
"We're getting closer," Mr Reid told reporters on Monday after meeting privately with Mr McConnell.
On Sunday, the two spoke by phone but failed to agree on a deal to raise the nation's borrowing authority above the $16.7trn (£10.5trn) debt limit or reopen the government.
The veteran senators are at an impasse over the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration and whether to undo or change them as part of a budget deal.
Republicans want to keep the spending at the deficit-cutting level of the 2011 budget law while Democrats are pressing for a higher amount.
"I'm optimistic about the prospects for a positive conclusion to the issues before this country today," Mr Reid said as the Senate wrapped up a rare Sunday session.
Mr McConnell insisted a solution was readily available.
He embraced the proposal from a bipartisan group of senators, led by Republican Susan Collins, that would re-open the government and fund it at current levels for six months while raising the debt limit through January 31.
Mr Obama also struck a more optimistic tone ahead of Monday's meeting, but urged caution.
He said: "There has been some progress on the Senate side, with Republicans recognising it's not tenable, it's not smart, it's not good for the American people to let America default.
"We'll see this afternoon whether this progress is real."
Congress is racing the clock with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warning that the US will quickly exhaust its ability to pay the bills on Thursday.
"We're making very good progress, but there's still many details to be worked out," Ms Collins said before joining her GOP colleagues at a meeting with Mr McConnell.
"We don't have a finished, agreed-upon product yet but I think we had an excellent meeting. And we'll get together later today."
There was no certainty that the growing anxiety among financial leaders around the world would provide the necessary jolt to force Senate leaders to a deal.
Democratic Sen Joe Manchin said that investors are growing increasingly "skittish" about the possibility of default.
The bond markets were closed for the Columbus Day holiday on Monday, and by mid-morning the stock market was down modestly, with both the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index losing less than 1%.
Economists, however, see greater financial danger from an historical default.
Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund's managing director, spoke fearfully about the disruption and uncertainty, warning of a "risk of tipping, yet again, into recession" after the fitful recovery from 2008.
Meanwhile, the now 14-day shutdown continues to furlough 350,000 federal workers and impeded various government services.