Progress, but no plan, after Obama-GOP meeting: Lynn Sweet
BY LYNN SWEET Washington Bureau Chief October 10, 2013 9:04PM
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, following a meeting with House Republicans. Boehner said Republicans will advance legislation to temporarily extend the government's ability to borrow to meet its obligations. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Updated: November 12, 2013 6:32AM
WASHINGTON — While there is no deal, short-term solutions to the debt-ceiling and federal government shutdown crises are emerging as President Barack Obama meets with Senate Republicans on Friday after huddling with House GOP leadership on Thursday.
A flurry of meetings are taking place as a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows a backlash as the partial federal government shutdown hits Day 11 on Friday: 60 percent of the respondents said they would toss out every member of Congress.
Republicans are overwhelmingly getting the blame for the shutdown according to the survey, by a 53 percent to a 31 percent margin.
The House Republican team of 20, including Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), returned to the Capitol on Thursday after a White House meeting to continue to have more talks through the night with administration officials.
The House GOP put on the table Thursday morning a plan for a six-week debt ceiling hike with strings attached that Obama vowed he would not accept. The situation is fluid as a Senate Republican plan crafted by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is gaining traction with her Senate GOP colleagues.
The White House said in a statement, “The President, along with the Vice President, Treasury Secretary Lew, Denis McDonough and Rob Nabors listened to the Republicans present their proposal. “After a discussion about potential paths forward, no specific determination was made. 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.”
Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said in a statement after the 90-minute meeting, “This evening in the Roosevelt Room, the leaders laid out the House proposal to temporarily extend the debt limit, formally appoint budget negotiators, and begin immediate discussions over how to reopen the government. No final decisions were made; however, it was a useful and productive conversation.”
Obama said he would not negotiate until the debt ceiling was raised and government reopened but seems willing to be flexible as the political ground may be shifting.
The House GOP proposal — which keeps much of government closed — is aimed at pressuring Obama and Senate Democrats to bargain over debt, deficit, budget and related fiscal issues.
Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) told me the timetable for reopening government “depends on how quickly the negotiations occur.” The House GOP is tying a long- or short-term resolution to fund the federal government “to this six-week extension of debt. But that’s not saying we couldn’t, based upon the negotiations going on right now.”
Senate Democratic leaders, including Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), also met with Obama. Afterward, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was asked if would accept a debt limit increase without reopening the government
“The House has a unique form of legislating. It’s hour by hour,” Reid said. “Let’s wait and see what the House does.”
I asked Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) if he backed the Boehner six-week plan, and he told me: “If there is an opportunity to get Harry Reid and Barack Obama to come to the table and begin to talk about finding an end to this government shutdown, I’ll seriously consider any proposal that does that.”
The Collins plan would fund government, repeal a medical-device tax imposed as part of the Obamacare health law with the lost cash “fully offset” and, in a new wrinkle, give federal agencies a bigger say in how they are managing mandatory cuts imposed as a result of the sequester, the automatic spending cuts Congress is now living with.
However, if and when budget talks get underway, House Democrats have on their agenda getting rid of many of those sequester cuts.