Debt ceiling compromise moves closer to reality

President Barack Obama and U.S. congressional leaders are racing against time to reach agreement on a compromise that would keep the government from defaulting on its $14.3 trillion debt.

With very little time remaining before a Tuesday deadline, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Sunday that a compromise is really, really close. His Democratic colleague, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said he had agreed to a pending deal with Republicans.

But any deal approved by the Senate also would have to get through the House of Representatives. In that chamber, Republican Majority Leader John Boehner planned a late-evening conference call with his party membership to discuss the proposed compromise. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi set a meeting with her colleagues on Monday.

No votes seem likely in either house of Congress until today at the earliest, just one day before the deadline to raise the federal debt limit and enable the government to keep paying its bills.

The compromise bill includes more than $2 trillion in spending cuts while raising the debt ceiling so the country can continue borrowing money.

U.S. and overseas markets are nervously watching developments in Washington. Failure to reach agreement could set back a shaky world economy, which is still struggling to recover from recession.

U.S. stock markets suffered their worst losses of the year last week and the value of the dollar slumped.

All sides agree on the need to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling. But they have been squabbling for weeks on what to cut and how fast those cuts should be made.

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