Senate leaders expressed optimism about forging an eleventh-hour bipartisan agreement Wednesday that would avoid a government default after their House colleagues failed to produce a plan that could pass muster.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were set to pick up the pieces following a fractious and fruitless night in the House that did little more than run down the clock. "Given tonight's events, the Leaders have decided to work toward a solution that would reopen the government and prevent default," McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said in a statement. "They are optimistic an agreement can be reached."

Their effort to forge a deal acceptable to both parties to restart the government and renew its authority to borrow was given fresh urgency on Tuesday by a warning issued by Fitch Ratings, the third-largest credit rating agency, which said the debacle in Washington meant it was placing the country's long-term credit rating under review for a potential downgrade.

Read it at NPR.