Ten Days Into Shutdown, Government Stooges Begin Negotiations

October 11, 2013

Government_Shutdown_Hub_Generic_640x480_20110408203856_320_240House Republicans and President Obama appear to be at an impasse over a Republican proposal to raise the debt limit for six weeks, but seem committed to continuing negotiations for the first time since the government was shut down 10 days ago.

“After a discussion about potential paths forward, no specific determination was made,” the White House said in a statement following Mr. Obama’s Thursday afternoon meeting with House Republican leaders. “The President looks forward to making continued progress with members on both sides of the aisle. The President’s goal remains to ensure we pay the bills we’ve incurred, reopen the government and get back to the business of growing the economy, creating jobs and strengthening the middle class.”

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, issued a similar statement to the one from the White House, adding that communication would continue throughout the night. “House Republicans remain committed to good faith negotiations with the president, and we are pleased there was an opportunity to sit down and begin a constructive dialogue tonight,” the statement said.

The meeting between Mr. Obama and his team and the House Republican leaders lasted approximately 90 minutes. Boehner did not talk to reporters afterward, but when the group returned to the Capitol, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told reporters the talks had been productive.

“We had a very useful meeting. It was clarifying, I think, to both sides as to where we are. And the takeaway from the meeting was, our teams are going to be talking further tonight. We’ll have more discussion. We will come back to have more discussion,” Cantor said. “The President said that he would go and consult with the administration folks, and hopefully we can see a way forward after that.”

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said that president said neither yes nor no to the proposal.

The Republican leadership presented the plan to their conference on Thursday morning. In exchange for a six-week increase in the debt ceiling without any policy conditions, they a promise from Mr. Obama to engage in negotiations to continue lowering the deficit. The proposal was the first sign of any legislation that might head off a default when the U.S. exhausts its borrowing authority on Oct. 17.

During the day, the sticking point that emerged was whether White House and Senate Democrats would be willing to decouple the debt ceiling from the government shutdown, which would not end under the Republican proposal.

After Senate Democrats met with President Obama this afternoon, the answer from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was, “it’s not going to happen.”

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