Senate Democrats aimed to seize the initiative in efforts to head off a ruinous debt default by pushing their deficit-cutting plan on Saturday toward a possible compromise with a divided Republican Party.
Entrenched differences were still hampering a compromise as Democratic leaders accused their Republican counterparts of obstructionism, less than 100 hours before the government says it will run out of money to pay all its bills.
President Barack Obama used his presidential pulpit for the second time this week to urge rival lawmakers to strike a deal and avert what he has said would be an "inexcusable" default.
"There are multiple ways to resolve this problem," Obama said in his weekly address. "Congress must find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House. And it's got to be a plan that I can sign by Tuesday."
The debt saga shifted to the Senate late on Friday after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a deficit-cutting bill, breaking weeks of political inertia.
The Democratic-controlled Senate quickly killed that bill, as expected, but its earlier approval by the House lifted hopes that it could form part of a final compromise.
The mood in the Senate quickly soured, however, as Democratic leaders angrily accused Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of refusing to talk to them.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid modified his plan, taking elements of an earlier McConnell proposal with the hopes of picking up Republican votes.
But he declined McConnell's offer to vote on it immediately -- a sign that Reid does not yet have enough support.More...