President Barack Obama postponed a Monday afternoon meeting with congressional Democratic and Republican leaders, saying he wants to give them more time to make progress in talks to end the U.S. government shutdown and prevent a debt default.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said he has been making progress in talks with Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Reid said good faith negotiations continue and that he is very optimistic there will be an agreement this week.
McConnell said he shares the Reid's optimism. McConnell said he has had some very constructive exchanges. The Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, was also spotted leaving McConnell's Senate offices Monday afternoon.
At the center of the current talks is a proposal to increase the federal government's debt limit into next year, along with a short-term measure to reopen the government and allow the start of budget negotiations.
If the debt ceiling is not raised by Thursday, the United States may not be able to pay all its bills. President Obama has said this would be a catastrophe for the world economy.
It is unclear if Congress can meet the Thursday deadline even if Senate Democrats and Republican leaders reach agreement Monday. Conservative hardliners such as Texas Republican Ted Cruz might force a delay in a final vote.
The House also would need to back the plan. Republican leaders are under 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 Mr. Obama's healh care law.