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Obama Posotpnes Talks with Congressional Leaders as Debt Deadline Looms

U.S. President Barack Obama has postponed a planned Monday afternoon meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders from both houses of Congress, saying he wants to give them more time to make progress in talks to end the government shutdown and prevent a debt default.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said leaders were making progress toward ending the congressional impasse. Reid made his comments after meeting with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

After that meeting, Reid said he hoped to have a proposal to outline to the president. McConnell said he is optimistic about reaching an agreement soon.

Under discussion is an increase in the federal government's debt limit well into next year, and a short-term measure that would re-open the government and the start of budget negotiations.

Failure to extend the debt ceiling by Thursday could result in the United States exhausting its ability to pay its bills.

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."

The Treasury Department says it cannot guarantee that the U.S. government will be able to pay its bills past Thursday if Congress does not raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling.

But it is unclear whether Congress can meet that deadline even if Senate Republicans and Democrats reach agreement on Monday. Hard-liners such as Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz might be able to delay a vote for several days.

The House also would need to sign off on the plan. Republican leaders there face strong pressure from conservatives who are reluctant to make concessions. Many of them say they will refuse to back any deal that fails to reform Obama's 2010 healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act.

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