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US Leaders Looking for Way to Reopen Government, Increase Debt Cap

U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders are meeting again Friday to try to end the partial government shutdown and increase the country's borrowing authority so it can keep paying its bills.

Mr. Obama, a Democrat, and Republican leaders in the House of Representatives met at the White House Thursday. The president is set to meet Senate Republican leaders on Friday as they try to craft a deal to end the 11-day shutdown that has furloughed several hundred thousand government workers and halted numerous services.

They also are looking to increase the country's $16.7 trillion borrowing authority, which the U.S. expects to reach next Thursday. At that point, the U.S. would only have limited cash on hand to meet its financial obligations. House Republicans offered to increase the debt ceiling through November 22, while looking to negotiate more spending cuts with the White House over the next six weeks.

There were signs of movement toward a deal to end Washington's twin economic dilemmas, but nothing firm. The White House and House Republican leaders, including Congressman Eric Cantor, described their meeting as constructive.



"We had a very useful meeting. It was clarifying I think for both sides as to where we are."



Meanwhile, the political impact of the shutdown on the U.S. political landscape was reflected in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of 800 people. It showed that 53 percent of respondents blame the shutdown on Republicans, while 31 percent blame it on Mr. Obama and Democratic lawmakers.

News of a possible debt ceiling deal sent U.S. markets soaring Thursday and Asian stock indexes jumped Friday as well. U.S. and European stocks advanced modestly Friday.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told a Senate panel Thursday that it would be a "grave mistake" to fail to increase the debt ceiling by the October 17 deadline. He said the Treasury would then only have about $30 billion on hand and some incoming revenue, but not enough to pay all its bills.

Lew said the government should not have to choose between paying government bond holders or paying pensions and health benefits owed to older Americans.

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