: After a week of little progress, while the budget negotiation's key players were away and some federal bureaucrats staged a "work-in," top Administration and Congressional officials may be getting closer to resolving the budget deadlock that has partially shut down government for the past two weeks. White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta emerged from a three-hour meeting with Republican leaders on Friday, announcing the possibility of a stopgap spending measure that would send federal employees back to work while a budget is finalized. "The general tone has shifted among the principals," says Congressional correspondent Karen Tumulty. "They seen to be coming out of the negotiating rooms happy, rather than angry. So it looks like some progress is being made." Facing mounting criticism for continuing to receive paychecks while some 760,000 other federal employees face another week without pay, Congress, notes Tumulty, is anxious to get a deal worked out. "This is a huge crisis in Washington, where there are a lot of federal employees." Workers did get one check Friday, pay for the week before the government shut down on December 16.