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Senate stalls bi-partisan debt ceiling deal to end government shutdown

With only five days left to a possible default, there is yet no unity in the US senate with Republicans and Democrats rejecting each other’s proposal to end the 12-day-old government shutdown.

On Saturday the focus of efforts to end the shutdown shifted to the Senate, where the two sides held negotiations in a bid to resolve the stalemate. However, the talks yielded no agreement.

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The US Senate Republicans rejected a Democratic plan to raise the debt ceiling through 2014 without making any cuts or changes to Obamacare. Voting 53 against and 45 in favor, Republicans, who want the extension to be accompanied by spending cuts, blocked the bill, which needed at least 60 votes to overcome the objections.

The move was followed by Senate Democratic leaders’ opposition to Republican proposal to end the fiscal stalemate.

Rejecting an offer by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to end the budget impasse, Democrats argued that her offer asks for too much in return for too little, the POLITICO cited senators and aides.

The so-called Collins plan, which has bipartisan support, offered a six-month extension of government funding and an increase in the government's borrowing limit through January. It was also calling for a two-year delay on Obamacare's medical device tax as well requiring income verification for Americans seeking subsidies for President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Democrats say a new medical device tax that would raise $30 billion over 10 years for the President's healthcare law.

After discussing the plan with the President Friday, Collins said Obama called the proposal "constructive”, but she, at the same time, did not “want to give the impression that he endorsed it."

Speaking to reporters after the vote, US Senate Democrat leader Harry Reid said he would like negotiations with Republican leaders to result in a deal by Monday.  He will meet with President Barack Obama later on Saturday, White House officials said.

The White House said the Senate rejection of the debt plan was unfortunate and urged Congress to find a solution to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.

"Congress must do its job and raise the debt limit to pay the bills we have incurred and avoid default,"
said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

Without action by Congress, the United States could default on its bond payments by Thursday, for the first time in country’s history.