While parts of the government remain closed and the debt limit deadline is less than a week away, negotiators appear a little bit closer Friday morning to working out a deal.
Up to speed
After a meeting at the White House Thursday afternoon, both Republican House members and the Obama administration relayed a more optimistic tone about breaking the logjam.
House Republicans presented their plan to extend the debt limit for an additional six weeks in exchange for negotiations on the debt and entitlement programs.
“He didn’t say no. He didn’t say yes,” is how Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin described the President’s reaction.
One sticking point: Obama wants the government to reopen before negotiations, which was not part of the Republicans’ plan.
An exchange between Ryan and Obama changed the tenor of the meeting, sources said.
After an hour of talking in circles, Ryan jumped in, providing the President with a reality check about the Republican majority in the House, and everything changed.
Chief National Correspondent John King describes the moment:
“So, Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, and remember, the Republican vice presidential nominee the last time around, turned to President Obama, said something to the effect of, ‘Look, we know you don’t like our position. We know you probably don’t respect our position, but we’re the Republican majority, you’re stuck with us for a while, at least through the next election season. So, we need to learn to have a conversation with each other.'”
“And at that point, both Democrats and Republicans say, the tone of the meeting changed and the president said, ‘OK, I’m not going to negotiate until you reopen the government. Go back to your members, find out what you need to do to get that part done and let’s try to make progress.'”
“Importantly, they also at this meeting decided — and this was the Republicans who brought this up — let’s not walk out of here sniping at each other. Let’s walk out of here saying we’re making progress for both the financial markets and, I would call it, the political markets, so the people start to have a bit of faith.”
Pivot point 2
Obamacare is off the table.
Oklahoma Republican Rep. James Lankford said that the Republican demand to defund the health care law is “off the table.”
The President has no intention of negotiating the dismantling of his key accomplishment.
Lankford said Republicans have a new goal: delay the penalty for not buying insurance.
A third pivot point?
While House Republicans and the President seem to be moving forward on a potential agreement, the Senate still has to agree to it.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said any agreement that doesn’t open the government is “not going to happen.”
And Senate Republicans are also confused about why the House proposal doesn’t address the partial government shutdown.
A group of bipartisan senators, led by Maine Republican Susan Collins, are working on a proposal that would both extend the debt ceiling and open the government’s closed doors.
10 a.m.: A skeptical Rep. Nancy Pelosi will meet with her members to discuss the House Republicans’ proposal.
11:15 a.m.: Senate Republicans will meet with the President at the White House
While North Carolina says it doesn’t have the money for about 50,000 food aid recipients, other states are rearranging funds to accommodate the demand. In November, however, the story will be very different if the government is still closed.
Maine is worried about the lack of funds for a program called LIHEAP, which provides heating assistance for low income people.
The District of Columbia is in a crunch. Mayor Vincent Gray said the city has had to delay $90 million worth of payments to Medicaid providers, it is about to miss a $150 million payment to charter schools, and it hasn’t been able to pay a multimillion-dollar bill to the public transit system, WMATA. That’s because Congress controls most of D.C.’s money and isn’t able to release it due to the government shutdown.
Federal courts will remain open — for now. The court system, including the Supreme Court, has the money to operate until October 17.
Upon the news that the chance of a breakthrough is slightly increased, the Dow climbed up 300 points Thursday, the best gain of the year.
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