A week away from hitting the debt-ceiling, Congress is making moves. But late into Thursday, the big news is all of the talking.
After a day of optimism, it's suddenly looking like the White House isn't ready to embrace a House GOP debt-ceiling plan. But White House-House GOP talks are set to go well into the night, with Republican and Democratic senators holding talks of their own.
House Speaker John Boehner this morning said his caucus is readying a short-term plan to lift the debt-ceiling for six weeks, with no strings attached. House leadership hopes that they'll be able to use that window to open up negotiations with the White House on a long-term budget deal.
The plan might not be so easy to execute. House Republicans are currently split on a clean debt-limit increase, even in the short term. And Senate Republicans in a hearing with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew this morning emphasized their desire to tackle entitlement reform along with an increase.
The Senate, meanwhile, is pushing ahead with Majority Leader Harry Reid's plan to extend the limit until December 31, 2014, with an expected vote this weekend. After a meeting at the White House, Reid said that broader budget negotations aren't going to happen as long as the government is shutdown.
Most importantly, after an hour-plus meeting with House Republicans, the New York Times is reported that President Obama is not accepting the House GOP six-week extension, although it now sounds like they are walking back that report some. The White House still is calling the meeting with House GOP leaders "good," and all parties anticipate working through the night.
All of this while a new NBC poll out shows that the shutdown and debt-ceiling debate have severely hurt the GOP, and brought serious pessism across the country.
Thursday is going strong. We have your updates here.
UPDATE (7:20 p.m.): Could the Government Reopen by Monday?
That's what one GOP member of Congress is saying Thursday night:
BREAKING: @RepLynnJenkins just told Larry that House leaders hope to have the government opened by Monday— The Kudlow Report (@TheKudlowReport) October 10, 2013
UPDATE: (7:09 p.m.) Speaker Boehner Has Left the Capitol
Photo evidence. Destination unknown, and we still aren't quite sure what else to expect from the evening.
UPDATE (6:46 p.m.): House Rules Committee Meeting Canceled?
Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., told National Journal that this evening's Rules Committee meeting has been cancelled.
"I was expecting a Rules Committee meeting tonight, but now I'm told there won't be a Rules Committee meeting tonight," said Woodall. "So maybe that tells you about what went on over there."
Woodall, who did not attend the White House meeting, was quick to note that his speculation was "conjecture" until he learns of what happened in the session. (By Tim Alberta)
UPDATE (6:39 p.m.): The White House Calls GOP Meeting "Good"
Sounds like the New York Times may've been a little hyperbolic. While the White House isn't fully embracing the House plan, they're calling talks overall positive. Here's the full White House statement:
"The President had a good meeting with members of the House Republican Leadership this evening; the meeting lasted approximately an hour and a half. 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."
UPDATE: (6:35 p.m.): Paul Ryan Speaks
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says negotiations are to continue Thursday night between House Republicans and President Obama.
"We're going to keep talking tonight," said Ryan, as he left Speaker John Boehner's office.
"We made an offer, we're negotiating the rest, we decided to keep talking," said Ryan.
When asked what remains to be discussed – and whether it is an administration demand that a spending bill be passed to reopen government, Ryan would not say.
"We've decided to continue talking, and continue negotiating," reiterated Ryan. (By Billy House)
UPDATE: (6:30 p.m.): The Scene on the Hill After the Rejection
The delegation of nearly two-dozen House Republicans marched stoically into the Capitol foyer, largely ignoring a horde of reporters asking for their reaction to the meeting with Obama.
"We had a very useful meeting, and we're going to have more discussions on both sides tonight," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said, walking hurriedly toward his office.
Several other Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, ignored the media throng and marched straight toward the leadership offices without giving any hint of a facial expression.
Rep. Steve Scalise, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, normally quick to engage with the media, was reluctant to give any comment. Pressed for his reaction to the meeting, he finally allowed, "It was a useful conversation, and there's a lot more to discuss."
Then he, along with some colleagues, disappeared down a hallway toward the Speaker's office. (By Tim Alberta)
UPDATE (6:15 p.m.): Obama Rejects House GOP Debt-Ceiling Deal
Well now. The New York Times is reporting that the president, after meeting with House Republicans, is rejecting the six-week extension of the debt-ceiling. We'll have more when it comes in.
UPDATE (6:01 p.m.): The Speaker Has Left the Building
Speaker Boehner and other members of the House GOP left the White House around 6:00 p.m. No one spoke to any reporters. The quick exit is relatively unusual for the speaker.
In other news, National Review's Robert Costa reports that a six-week debt-limit extension is now likely to pass the House.
UPDATE (4:57 p.m.): The House GOP-Obama Summit Begins
Per the White House pool, the White House meeting between the president and House Republicans has begun.
UPDATE (3:53 p.m.): Harry Reid: Negotiations Aren't Going to Happen
Emerging from an almost-two hour meeting between the president and Democratic senators, Majority Leader Harry Reid had a very succinct answer when asked if there would be negotiations with Republicans as long as long as the government shutdown continues -- "Not going to happen."
Reid was flanked by Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Charles Schumer of New York and Patty Murray as he talked to reporters outside the West Wing. "The government should be open.... If that happens, we'll negotiate on anything," said Reid.
Asked to respond to a House Republican proposal for a short-term raising of the debt limit, Reid mocked what he called the House's "unique form of legislating -- It is hour by hour.."
He said he would have to "wait and see what the House does." But he left no doubt there will be no negotiations under the threat of a continued shutdown. (By George Condon)
UPDATE (3:51 p.m.): The House GOP Bill's Coming Out Party
The official debut of the House GOP's six-month debt-ceiling extender bill -- arrival at the Rules Committee -- is now pushed to 7 p.m., or later. "7-ish," according to one aide.
That's important because Democrats in both the House and Senate remain skeptical about how "clean" or untied to extraneous Republican policy demands it really might be.
Word that the plan would also include language to permanently ban the Treasury Department from using extraordinary measures to avoid default is already causing concern by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and others. They question the wisdom of doing that, before understanding what the full ramifications might be. (By Billy House)
UPDATE (3:38 p.m.): The White House Meeting With Senate Dems Has Ended
About an hour and a half after it began, the White House pool reports that Obama's meeting with Senate Democrats has ended. The president is scheduled to meet with House Republicans at 4:35 p.m.
UPDATE (2:35 p.m.): Heritage Won't Block Boehner's Debt Ceiling Plan
Heritage Action says it does not support Boehner's plan for a clean, short-term increase to the debt ceiling, but the conservative group said it would not work to block the proposal either:
"We do not support clean debt ceiling increases, but because Heritage Action is committed to giving House Leadership the flexibility they need to refocus the debate on Obamacare we will not key vote against the reported proposal," chief executive officer Michael A. Needham said in a statement.
If Heritage were to "key vote" the proposal, it would essentially be insisting members vote against it or lose standing with the influential conservative group. By keeping the "key vote" system out of the debate, Heritage is allowing individual members flexibility to vote either way on the proposal without risking significant backlash from Heritage-aligned conservatives. (By Patrick Reis)
UPDATE (2:00 p.m.): The White House Meetings Begin
Senate Democrats are currently meeting with President Obama, according to the White House pool. We'll see how this goes.
UPDATE (1:46 p.m.): Will the White House Negotiate with Congressional Republicans?
Jay Carney's latest answer: "Let's see if they're serious about putting the matches and gasoline aside."
UPDATE (1:40 p.m.): Free Money!
So, here's something weird. There appears to be a ton of cash on the floors of the Senate's Hart building:
Uh... so someone dropped a ton of money on the floor in the Senate Hart building pic.twitter.com/gS1XtR6h7M— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) October 10, 2013
Capitol police now sweeping up all the money pic.twitter.com/dxlQ8uFdcF— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) October 10, 2013
Apparently, the money was part of a stunt from an anti-Monsanto protest group. Three people have reportedly been arrested. As if things couldn't get stranger this month.
From the same Washington Examiner reporter, here's video of police shoving cash into evidence bags:
UPDATE (1:15 p.m.): Scalise, Noem to Join Boehner's White House Entourage
Boehner is making late editions to the roster of Republicans set to join him at the White House Thursday afternoon.
Initially, Boehner opted to designate 18 lawmakers -- all of them leadership officials and committee chairmen -- to travel to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. But since the announcement, there were late additions made to the Republican roster.
Most notably, Rep. Steve Scalise, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, will join the GOP entourage. This is a significant development, as RSC chairmen have rarely been invited to meetings with the president—regardless of which party holds the White House. Scalise's invitation demonstrates his close working relationship with Boehner, and speaks to how heavily leadership has leaned on him to deliver conservatives on tough votes this year.
Another late addition, as reported by the Washington Post's Paul Kane, is Rep. Kristin Noem of South Dakota. Noem represented her freshman class in leadership meetings during the 112th Congress.
Courtesy of the Speaker's office, here's the list of members who will join Boehner at the WhiteHouse on Thursday:
Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Greg Walden, James Lankford, Lynn Jenkins, Virginia Foxx, Steve Southerland, Ann Wagner, Peter Roskam, Pete Sessions, Paul Ryan, Dave Camp, Fred Upton, Hal Rogers, Jeb Hensarling, Buck McKeon, as well as late additions Steve Scalise and Kristin Noem. (By Tim Alberta)
UPDATE (1:14 p.m.): Will Obama Sign the GOP Plan?
At the daily White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney said that "the president is happy that cooler heads at least seem to have prevailed in the House." Carney didn't, however, go so far as to say that Obama would sign the House GOP bill, as they've yet to actually see it.
Carney was exceedingly vague about the point at which Obama would agree to budget negotiations. (By Matt Berman)
UPDATE (12:25 p.m.): Will the GOP Deal Go Through?
Some Republican members aren't so thrilled. "I'm not very enthusiastic," says Rep. Steve King. More here on what's in the deal, and what people are saying about it from Tim Alberta and Billy House.
UPDATE (12:08 p.m.): Where the White House (Still) Stands
A White House official reiterated the president's stance following Speaker Boehner's press statement this morning. "The president has made clear that he will not pay a ransom for Congress doing its job," the official said. The official also said that the White House would obviously prefer an up-or-down vote in the House on Senator Reid's one-year debt-limit extension.
But Obama would be open to a short-term debt-ceiling deal, the official said, echoing earlier statements Thursday from the Treasury secretary. The official said though that, in order for the president to agree to broader budget negotiations, Congress would first have to pass a clean debt limit increase and a funding bill to end the shutdown. (By Matt Berman)
Shutdown Polls and Possible Progress
Matt Berman, Patrick Reis, Tim Alberta, Billy House and George Condon contributed to this article.
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