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Senate leaders say deal near on spending, shutdown
Senate leaders express optimism they may reach deal on payroll tax cut, spending
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ' In a turnabout from several days of vocal confrontation, the Senate's top Democrat and Republican are both expressing optimism that they are nearing an end to disputes over renewing a payroll tax cut and extra benefits for the long term unemployed and avoiding a federal shutdown.

Majority Leader Harry Reid opened Thursday's session of the Senate by saying he has been in talks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Nevada Democrat said he and McConnell hope to reach an agreement to end this contentious session of Congress in the next few days.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said he was confident they could resolve their remaining disputes.

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