US debt: Truce in sight as Senate leaders work on compromise ahead of Thursday's deadline

China calls for 'de-Americanized world' not dependent on the dollar as a reserve currency

Washington DC

With the clock ticking down fast, frantic behind-closed-doors efforts were accelerating on Monday in Washington to craft a stop-gap fiscal package temporarily to reopen the government and authorise an increase in America’s debt ceiling before Thursday when the US Treasury expects to run out of cash to meet all its obligations.

There were growing signs that Democrat Senator Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, and his Republican counterpart, minority leader Mitch McConnell, were marshaling their troops towards a package that offered face-saving tidbits for both sides while ensuring that funding for the government would be restored until mid-January next year and the authority for the US to raise the debt ceiling would be extended through the middle of February.

While it was unlikely the two Senate leaders would forge a deal without being confident it would pass in their chamber, its fate in the House of Representatives remained uncertain with the right flank of the Republican Party certain to rebel if there is any sense their party had been forced to retreat.  A Senate deal, if approved, would probably be put to the full House for a vote by speaker John Boehner as early as today or Wednesday. 

After sliding early on Monday, markets picked up on fresh word that a truce was at last in sight. Senator Reid opened a Senate session saying he was “very optimistic we will reach an agreement this week that’s reasonable in nature”.  Mr McConnell suggested in his own comments that he concurred saying they had had a “couple of very useful discussions”. The Dow Jones industrial average added 64.15 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 15,301.26

The partial shutdown has now entered a third week, with 350,000 federal workers on furlough without pay, while Thursday remains the deadline for an agreement to be struck on raising the debt ceiling without which the US could risk a first-ever default on its debt.  The deal taking shape appeared to be a big retreat for Republicans, who have seen public opinion turn sharply against them. Some on the right flank had wanted to use the crisis to pare back or even hobble Mr Obama’s healthcare reforms.

Visiting a local Washington food bank charity, Martha’s Table, Mr Obama struck a cautiously optimistic note. “My hope is that a spirit of cooperation will move us forward over the next few hours,” he said. “If we don’t start making some real progress both in the House and the Senate, and if Republicans aren't willing to set aside some of their partisan concerns in order to do what's right for the country, we stand a good chance of defaulting."

In a vivid illustration of how  the squabbling on Capitol Hill has implications far beyond the Washington beltway and indeed America’s borders, an impatient China, which holds more American debt than any other nation, called for a ‘de-Americanized world’ where the dollar is no longer the chosen international reserve currency.

The case was made in a sharply worded editorial published by the official Xinhua news agency. “As US politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world,” it said.

With global growth barely returning after the 2008 crash, including in the Eurozone the political crisis here could hardly be coming at a less helpful time At the weekend the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, warned sternly of the "risk of tipping, yet again, into recession” if solutions are not found this week.

The broadside by Xinhua, which usually represents the views of the Beijing government, was all the more striking because it went beyond even the “pernicious impasse” on the fiscal dossier taking advantage of the crisis to take Washington to task also for taking “the moral high ground” in world affairs while “covertly doing things that are as audacious as torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks, and spying on world leaders”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk