By Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate prepared for a last ditch effort on Wednesday to avoid a historic lapse in the government’s borrowing authority, a breach that President Barack Obama has said could lead to default and deliver a damaging blow to the global economy.After a day of stop-and-go negotiations, the top Democrat and Republican in the U.S. Senate were said to be close to agreeing on a proposal to raise the debt limit – and reopen the partially shuttered government – for consideration by the full Senate later on Wednesday.The measure’s fate remained uncertain in the fractured Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which failed twice Tuesday to produce its own plan.The Senate was scheduled to meet at noon (8.00 a.m. ET), and the House at 10 a.m. (10.00 a.m. ET).With borrowing authority set to run out on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican leader Senator Mitch McConnell „are very close” to an agreement, Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, a top House Democrat, told MSNBC late Tuesday night.”I think folks on both sides of the aisle in the Senate are ready to get this done,” Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia told National Public Radio on Wednesday, a day after chaotic developments frayed the nerves of many members of Congress and global financial markets.World markets and the dollar were holding steady on Wednesday amid hopes that lawmakers would strike a last-minute deal to prevent the country from defaulting on its debt, although cautious investors are still wary over the final outcome.Although the cost of insuring U.S. debt hit its highest in over two years, the dollar held its ground against other currencies and U.S. stock index futures signaled a higher start on Wall Street later on Wednesday. European shares also saw a limited morning fall.”Our assumption is that there will be a plan,” John Chambers, chairman of S&P’s Sovereign Ratings Committee, told CBS’s „This Morning” program on Wednesday.McConnell and Reid resumed stalled talks after a roller coaster day that saw two separate legislative efforts in the House buried after it became apparent too many Republicans were rebelling against their leaders’ plans.Following weeks of bitter fighting among Democrats and Republicans, the layoff of hundreds of thousands of federal workers and turmoil for stock markets, the deal under discussion – if eventually enacted – would basically give Obama what he has demanded for months: A straight-forward debt limit hike and government funding bill.The deal would extend U.S. borrowing authority until February 7, although the Treasury Department would have tools to temporarily extend its borrowing capacity beyond that date if Congress failed to act early next year.With the final details not yet nailed down, as it stood Tuesday night, the agreement envisioned funding government agencies until January 15, ending a partial government shutdown that began with the new fiscal year on October 1.SENATE HURDLE–Senate aides said the two leaders are looking at two possible ways of speeding the legislation through the chamber, which often can bog down for days with procedural hurdles.Under one scenario, all 100 senators would agree to let Democrats schedule quick votes to pass the bill. That would mean that Tea Party firebrands, such as Republican Senator Ted Cruz, would give up their rights to delay a vote.Cruz has not publicly announced his intentions but some Senate aides think that the Texas freshman with presidential aspirations has been sending positive signals in recent days.Cruz and fellow activists in the Tea Party movement late last month delayed passage of a government funding bill as they demanded major changes to Obama’s landmark healthcare law.The deadlock led to federal agency shutdowns as Obama and his fellow Democrats stood firm against changing the law.The other scenario would have the House send a formal „message” to the Senate to pave the way for quick Senate action, according to a Senate aide who asked not to be identified.Again, it was not clear whether House Republicans would go along with that option.BOEHNER’S TOUGH DECISION–Assuming the Senate succeeds, House Speaker John Boehner will have to decide whether to allow passage of a bill that many of his fellow Republicans might oppose, a decision that could impact the top Republican’s political future.Chambliss said the speaker would have to rely on Democratic votes to pass any measure given the tight timeline.Republican Representative Sean Duffy of Wisconsin said most House conservatives would likely reject the Senate’s plan, but „more than likely it’ll pass,” he told MSNBC’s „Morning Joe” on Wednesday.Uncertainty over Washington’s ability to avert a default led Fitch Ratings to warn it could cut the sovereign credit rating of the United States from AAA, citing the political brinkmanship over raising the federal debt ceiling.House Republicans twice tried to come up with a new compromise but failed to satisfy Obama, Senate Democrats or Republican Tea Party conservatives who are determined to win changes to the president’s signature healthcare law before they will agree to concessions on the budget.The first House Republican attempt was shot down in a closed-door meeting and a second plan was later scuttled after the influential Heritage Action for America, a conservative group, urged a „no” vote because it did not do enough to stop Obama’s healthcare law.If Congress fails to reach a deal by Thursday, checks would likely go out on time for a short while for everyone from bondholders to workers who are owed unemployment benefits. But analysts warn that a default on government obligations could quickly follow, potentially causing the U.S. financial sector to freeze up and threatening the global economy.The Treasury Department seized on Fitch’s downgrade threat to press Congress. „The announcement reflects the urgency with which Congress should act to remove the threat of default hanging over the economy,” a Treasury representative said.After the Fitch announcement, S&P 500 futures fell 9.6 points while Dow Jones industrial average futures sank 60 points and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 7.5 points.The crisis is the latest in a series of budget battles in recent years that have hurt consumer confidence and weighed on the economy.Numerous polls show Republicans have taken a hit in public opinion since the standoff began and the government partially closed. Another Gallup survey this week showed American confidence in the U.S. economy fell another 5 percentage points last week as the government shutdown continued.(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Bill Trott; Editing by Fred Barbash, Tim Dobbyn and Eric Beech)
Obama plans immigration push after fiscal crisis ends
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that stalled immigration reform would be a top priority once the fiscal crisis has been resolved.”Once that’s done, you know, the day after, I’m going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform,” he told the Los Angeles affiliate of Spanish-language television network Univision.The president’s domestic agenda has been sidetracked in his second term by one problem after another. As he coped with the revelation of domestic surveillance programs, chemical weapons in Syria, and a fiscal battle that has shut down the U.S. government and threatens a debt default, immigration has been relegated to the back burner.But Obama, who won re-election with overwhelming Hispanic backing, had hoped to make reforms easing the plight of the 11 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally.In June, the Senate passed an immigration overhaul, but House of Representatives Republicans are divided over the granting of legal status to those in the country illegally, a step many see as rewarding lawbreakers.Although the president had sought comprehensive reform, he said last month he would be open to the House taking a piece-by-piece approach if that would get the job done.Obama on Tuesday blamed House Speaker John Boehner for preventing immigration from coming up for a vote.”We had a very strong Democratic and Republican vote in the Senate,” he said. „The only thing right now that’s holding it back is, again, Speaker Boehner not willing to call the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives.”Boehner said the sweeping Senate bill would not pass the House and has said the lower chamber would tackle the issue in smaller sections that would include stricter provisions on border protection(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Stacey Joyce)
Malala Yousafzai to be named honorary Canadian citizen in throne speechBy The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press – 11 hours agoThe Canadian Press – Malala Yousafzai poses for photographs on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, in New York. Yousafzai an advocate for girls’ education and the target of a Taliban assassination attempt, will be made …more Play VideoVideo: Throne speech previewCBC.ca Videos 4:10Play VideoMalala: „I want to be a politician in Pakistan”Reuters Videos 1:08 OTTAWA – Malala Yousafzai (YOO-suhf-zeye), an advocate for girls’ education and the target of a Taliban assassination attempt, will be made an honorary Canadian citizen.A senior government source confirms that Wednesday’s throne speech will confer the honour on the 16-year-old international figure.Yousafzai was shot in the head in her native Pakistan by the Taliban in October, 2012 while she was on a bus going home from school.Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Yousafzai in New York on Sept. 26 where she discussed her efforts to promote education for women and girls.Harper also invited her to visit Canada.Yousafzai, who now lives in England with her family, was the youngest ever nominee last week for the Nobel Peace Prize, which was won by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.Her memoir, ”I am Malala” was published last week. Yousafzai will become only the sixth international figure to receive honorary Canadian citizenship. The honour was previously bestowed on Nelson Mandela, Raoul Wallenberg, the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi and the Aga Khan.
GENEVA (Reuters) – Iran and six world powers began a second day of talks on Wednesday aimed at ending a decade-old standoff over Tehran’s disputed nuclear activities, diplomats said.The negotiations between senior officials from the Islamic state and the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain got under way around 12:30 a.m. (1030 GMT) at U.N. headquarters in Geneva. The session had been delayed by a series of bilateral meetings between delegations, diplomats said.The powers were expected to press Iran for details of its proposal outlined on Tuesday. Western diplomats stressed they wanted Tehran to back up newly conciliatory language with concrete actions by agreeing to scale back its enrichment of uranium and take verifiable steps to show it is not covertly trying to develop the means to produce nuclear bombs.(Reporting by Justyna Pawlak and Fredrik Dahl, editing by Mark Heinrich)
View Photo An Air India Boeing 787 Dreamliner prepares for a flying display, during the 50th …Play Video Norwegian Air Says Boeing Changed 787 Pump DesignWochit 0:28 SEATTLE (Reuters) – Boeing Co said a body panel fell off of a 787 Dreamliner operated by Air India while the plane was in flight on Saturday, a new problem for the high-tech jet that has suffered a string of mishaps since its introduction two years ago.Boeing said the loss of the fuselage panel posed no safety risk to passengers. It was not immediately known where the panel landed.The jet was carrying 148 people, including crew, on a flight from Delhi to Bangalore, The Times of India newspaper reported. The pilots did not realize the eight-by-four-foot panel was missing until after the flight landed, the newspaper said, adding that India’s aviation authorities are investigating.Boeing said the missing panel fell from the underside of the plane on the right side. A photo on The Times of India website showed a large opening with components and aircraft structure visible inside.”It was the mid-underwing-to-body fairing located on the belly of the airplane on the right side,” Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said. The part „provides a more aerodynamic surface in flight.”He said Boeing is working to understand what caused the panel to fall and declined to say whether the plane was made at Boeing’s South Carolina factory. A number of Air India jets have come from that assembly line.The Times of India said the panel was replaced with one taken from a just-delivered 787 Dreamliner that was not yet ready for service. That plane is now awaiting a spare part, the paper said.Problems that have afflicted the 787 include battery overheating that prompted regulators to ground the entire fleet in January. Flights resumed in April. Despite the problems, Boeing’s stock has stayed near record levels. It closed Tuesday at $118.18, down $1.28.(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)