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Fiscal talks pick up, but route to end government shutdown still murky (+video)

The House may vote to raise the debt limit as soon as this weekend, but that doesn’t guarantee reciprocal action in the Senate. Meanwhile, the government shutdown is putting a damper on already-weak economic growth.

Progress on debt ceiling and shutdown talks
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After days of congressional inaction on a pair of urgent fiscal deadlines, this week draws toward a close on a positive note: Washington politicians are talking more often, more substantively, and more respectfully than they had been.

The sobering follow-up: Despite progress, the fiscal quagmire may linger for a while.

That’s the case even though the House could vote as soon as this weekend on a bill addressing one of those fiscal deadlines: raising the government’s debt limit after the current borrowing cap is reached around Oct. 17.

As America has already seen in recent days, passage of a bill by the Republican-led House is no guarantee of reciprocal action in the Senate or a signature by President Obama.

Still, both sides are seeking possible paths forward to raise the debt limit and to address the other deadline: ending an 11-day-old partial shutdown of the government, which began with the failure of Congress to pass a budget for the new fiscal year.

Mr. Obama met with Senate Republicans Friday. After all the recent clashing in Washington, that bears repeating: The Democratic president talked for more than an hour with a group of living, breathing Republican lawmakers. And he met with House Republicans the previous evening.

"There have been constructive talks" between the parties, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday afternoon.

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