One Republican senator says he's more optimistic now that he has been in the past two weeks.

    Mike Johanns of Nebraska spoke after a two-hour meeting between Senate Republicans and President Barack Obama at the White House. He's predicting that in the next few days, a plan put forward by House Republicans ``will kind of morph into a Senate plan.''

    House GOP leaders are offering a measure that would avoid default and end the partial shutdown -- but it also involves cuts in benefit programs.

    Senior aides to Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor outlined the proposal at a late-night White House meeting last night with senior administration officials.

    In addition to ending the shutdown and increasing the debt limit, officials say the proposal includes an easing of the across-the-board spending cuts that began taking effect a year ago, and replacing them with curbs in benefit programs that Obama himself has backed. 

 House Speaker John Boehner's office says the Ohio Republican spoke by phone with President Barack Obama Friday afternoon.

    Spokesman Michael Steel said Obama and Boehner agreed ``that we should all keep talking.'' But he said no additional details of their call would be released.

    Obama met with Boehner and other GOP leaders at the White House on Thursday. Their staffs continued to talk into the night after the meeting on a possible deal to break their stalemate.  (Associated Press)