Shutdown prevention: Backroom bargaining starts

Led by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and launched during the government shutdown as a springboard for bipartisan negotiations, the “common sense caucus” may offer solutions on budget issues that have long plagued each party…

The group includes lawmakers who aren’t afraid to buck their leadership, whether it’s Republicans Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voting with Democrats to advance President Barack Obama’s nominees or Democrats Manchin and Mark Pryor of Arkansas opposing Reid’s historic push to revamp the filibuster rules.

Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) described the caucus as “kind of the volunteer fire department,” explaining that it may again be called on to unlock negotiations during what looks to be a heated debate between two parties long divided over tax and spending policy.