MICHAEL D. SHEAR & DAVID M. HERSZENHORN – Government Set to Default Weeks Earlier Than Forecast

WASHINGTON — As the government nears a potentially devastating default, the White House and congressional leaders have begun bipartisan talks aimed at reaching a two-year budget deal, seizing on what could be their final chance at consensus before Speaker John A. Boehner’s exit ushers in what is expected to be more combative leadership in the House.

The opening of negotiations, which started this week with a closed-door meeting of senior White House and Capitol Hill staff members, came as Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew warned on Thursday that the United States would exhaust its ability to borrow on Nov. 5 if lawmakers refuse to increase the amount of money the government can legally borrow.

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