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Looming Debt Deadline Threatens Economy

The partial federal government shutdown is in its 14th day and the United States is moving closer to a default that could damage the economy.

U.S. lawmakers are meeting in an effort to resolve their fiscal fight over government spending before the Thursday deadline for extending the country's debt ceiling. Failing to end the fight could result in the United States exhausting its ability to pay its bills.

Democrats want to raise the debt ceiling high enough to extend the time before it needs to be negotiated again, and want a short term spending bill to reopen the government. Republicans want a smaller hike in the debt ceiling along with more spending cuts.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said late Sunday he spoke with Republican leader Mitch McConnell and is "optimistic" about the prospects for resolving the issues.

McConnell says a solution is readily available from a bipartisan group of 12 senators. It would re-open the government and fund it at current levels for six months, while raising the debt limit through January 31.



International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde told NBC-TV's Meet the Press Sunday that failing to increase the debt ceiling would mean "massive disruption the world over" and could increase the risk of another global recession.



"You have to honor your signature, you have to give certainty to the rest of the world and you have to make sure that your own economy is consolidating that welcome economy that we have seen in the last few days, because it impacts the entire economy."



President Barack Obama and Democrats have been demanding Congress pass a so-called clean spending bill before negotiating on other issues, such as spending cuts and his health care program. Many Republicans want negotiations before voting on a budget.

Lawmakers are holding their meetings on the federal holiday known as Columbus Day, which marks the anniversary of the arrival of explorer Christopher Columbus to the Americas. In the past 20 years, both the House and Senate have only been in session on that date once, in 1998, while the Senate met one other time in 2004.

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Henry Ridgwell
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