A US Navy F-16 fighter jet based at Sigonella airbase on the Italian island of Sicily takes off for operations in Libya. Mario Laporta/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates, shown with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, testifies at a House Armed Services Committee hearing last month on the annual defense authorization budget request. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), shown in this undated photo, says Republicans are ready and willing to take the lead on overhauling Social Security. "Something must be done," he says. "Where is the president? Suddenly, at the moment when we can actually do something about this, he's silent." Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin took a swipe last week at the president's leadership on budget talks, rankling fellow members of his party. The senator is shown sitting by himself last week in the House of Representatives as he awaited an address to a joint session of Congress by the Australian prime minister. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sounds like he's ready to make concessions on the budget. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, shown at a Thursday news conference, has done little to tamp down speculation about a government shutdown. Alex Brandon/AP hide caption

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