Suddenly, lawmakers sound hopeful about payroll tax deal

After a day of shutdown talk and stalemate, Senate leaders opened today's business with smiles and sunny dispositions.

After talking with appropriators and Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he's hopeful about the prospects of reaching a deal on a bill to extend the payroll tax cut and fund the government before a Friday deadline.

"We hope that we can come up with something that would get us out of here at a reasonable time in the next few days," Reid said this morning.

McConnell agreed: "We've been in useful discussion about how to wrap up the session."

Neither leader offered many details on what that wrap-up will look like. Reid indicated the Senate was prepared to move forward with the massive spending bill negotiated between the chambers in conference. Reid has been holding up action on that bill, hoping to gain leverage on a payroll tax plan.

The House had decided to go ahead and vote on the version of the report Friday. Reid called that approach "a mistake."

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