Neither the House’s top Republican nor the top Democrat were keen on Thursday on the idea of gathering at the Camp David presidential retreat with President Obama and other congressional leaders this weekend to work out a deficit-reduction deal.
The tense talks are to continue at the White House on Thursday afternoon, and Obama has previously told lawmakers that Friday was the target for them to decide on a framework or general design of a plan for raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling as the August 2 deadline approaches.
Amid word that Obama was considering summoning the leaders to Camp David over the weekend, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., let their bipartisan disinterest be known.
“The speaker has told the White House he sees no need to go to Camp David this weekend,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, a tacit confirmation that the idea has been floated.
And in a news conference, Pelosi said of the idea, “That goes beyond the pale.”
“Let’s not say, well, we don’t have to make any decisions today, on Thursday, or Friday because we’re going to have s’mores at Camp David over the weekend,” she said, adding she wanted the rustic retreat in Maryland to remain a place where a president can go to relax.
Pelosi said she, Obama, and other congressional leaders already have been retreating together since last week, with daily meetings lasting up to two hours at the White House. Now, she said, talks are at the point where it's time to decide: “What is it that we can agree upon? Let’s get on with writing a bill.”
At the White House, officials were not denying the idea of moving talks to Camp David was out here, but they weren’t confirming it, either.
“The talks have been and for the next couple days will be here at the White House," an official said. "If we have different plans, we’ll let people know. But there are currently no plans for that.”
This article appears in the July 14, 2011, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.