Senators near deal to reopen US government

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US SENATORS

(AP) ? Senate leaders are closing in on an agreement to reopen the government and forestall an economy-rattling default on U.S. obligations.

Congressional aides predicted Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky could seal an agreement on Tuesday, just two days before the Treasury Department says it will run out of borrowing capacity.

The emerging pact would reopen the government through Jan. 15 and permit the Treasury to borrow normally until early to mid-February, easing dual crises that have sapped confidence in the economy and taken a sledgehammer to the GOP?s poll numbers.

?The general framework is there? between Reid and McConnell, said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. He said conversations with the House were continuing and he thought it would be midday Tuesday at the earliest before a plan was finalized.

Many House conservatives were unhappy about the emerging framework, though it remained to be seen whether they would seek to change it.

The plan is a far cry from the assault on ?Obamacare? that tea party Republicans originally demanded as a condition for a short-term funding bill to keep the government fully operational. It lacks the budget cuts demanded by Republicans in exchange for increasing the government?s $16.7 trillion borrowing cap.

Nor does the framework contain any of a secondary set of House GOP demands, like a one-year delay in the health law?s mandate that individuals buy insurance. Instead, it appeared likely to tighten income verification requirements for individuals who qualify for Obamacare subsidies and may repeal a $63 fee that companies must pay for each person they cover under the big health care overhaul beginning in 2014.

Democratic and Republican aides described the outlines of the potential agreement on condition of anonymity because the discussions were ongoing.

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