Two steps forward, one step back.

A surge of optimism for a possible compromise to end the partial government shutdown and avoid a U.S. default as soon as this week got jolted with the sudden announcement on Monday that a White House meeting between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders had been postponed.

In a brief statement, the White House said the meeting announced earlier in the day was postponed “to allow leaders in the Senate time to continue making important progress” toward a solution.

It was unclear if the postponement signaled a problem or was needed to give more time for talks between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, to finish an agreement that could win approval in the Senate and the House.

Negotiations heated up Monday, with the Democratic and Republican leaders signaling progress toward a positive result.

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