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Senate races the clock

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Power Play

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SENATE RACES THE CLOCK -With the deadline to raise the country’s borrowing limit set for Thursday (though the moment when Uncle Sam can’t pay all his bills may float for as much as a week) investors are getting very nervous about what will happen to interest rates and the world economy -- and not without good reason. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are trying today to hammer out a compromise to raise the debt ceiling and reopen full federal functions today. The Senate plan was put on hold Tuesday as House Republicans tried and failed several times to produce an alternate deal. The Reid-McConnell proposal would reportedly raise the debt ceiling through Feb. 7, fund the government through Jan. 15, and form a bipartisan committee to hammer out a longer-term budget deal. The only nod to Republican resistance to ObamaCare seems to be a measure designed to combat fraud in the new entitlement program. With time running out and the Senate’s own parliamentary rules working against meeting tomorrow’s deadline, Reid has few options to speed things up. 

[Watch Fox: Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, discusses the partial government shutdown in the 11 a.m. ET hour]

Reid’s options - Reid could go for “unanimous consent” which requires all senators to agree not to block the proposal. All outward indications are that the chief proponents of the movement to “defund” ObamaCare, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, won’t delay for delay’s sake. Another option for Reid: invoking “bipartisan” cloture, a recent change to filibuster rules. Under new rule, majority and minority leaders and a bipartisan group of 14 senators must sign the cloture petition to move a bill. Still, any compromise must face the final approval of the House. After last night’s dead end, with House Speaker John Boehner unable to convince a majority of his conference to offer an alternate plan, Boehner is in a jam.

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Chris Stirewalt

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