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Focus of US Budget Crisis Shifts to Senate

The focus on efforts to end the partial U.S. government shutdown and prevent a default shifted to the Senate Saturday as President Barack Obama's bid to reach an agreement with House Republicans appeared to have stalled.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said he and Republican leader Mitch McConnell discussed ways to end the 12-day-old crisis on Saturday. He said the talks were a positive development but that the two sides still had a long way to go.

Reid also said a proposal by Republican Senator Susan Collins that would fund U.S. government operations at current levels for another six months would not "go anyplace at this stage." After the vote, top Senate Democrats went to the White House to meet with the president.

Reid criticized Senate Republicans who rejected a Democratic plan that would have raised the government's borrowing limit through next year. Republicans said they wanted any extension to include spending cuts.

White House spokesman Jay Carney issued a statement saying it was "unfortunate" that the proposal was "refused a yes or no vote."



In his weekly address Saturday, the president said damage to the country's "sterling credit rating" would make it more expensive for everyone in America to borrow money, creating what would amount to a "Republican default tax on every family and business in America."

He said a default also would have a detrimental effect on global markets.

House Armed Services chairman Buck McKeon delivered the Republican address.

He said the two sides had found "common ground" this week with legislation supporting the military and their families during the shutdown, and now should continue to work out more agreements.

On Friday, finance chiefs of the world's leading economies urged the United States to quickly resolve the stalemate. The G20 finance ministers meeting in Washington said the U.S., with the world's largest economy, "needs to take urgent action to address short-term fiscal uncertainties."

Meanwhile, officials at three of the most famous U.S. national parks - the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore - have announced they will reopen in the coming days.

The move comes after state governors reached deals with the federal government, despite the ongoing government shutdown.

The states have agreed to provide the money needed to operate the parks.

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