WASHINGTON — President Obama has summoned congressional leaders to the White House, but he is bringing Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate, in turn. The separate White House meeting will take place before week’s end to try to resolve the continuing impasse over funding the government and raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
On Wednesday afternoon, it is the turn of the House Democratic minority, for what some Democrats have described as a “likely pep rally in the East Room” for Mr. Obama’s hard-line position. Democrats are united behind the president’s stance of not negotiating with Republicans about Obamacare or anything else until House Republican leaders agree to fund and reopen the government, and increase the debt limit so the Treasury can keep paying the nation’s bills.
Mr. Obama has invited the Senate’s Democratic majority and the Republican minority, as well as the House Republicans. Times and dates were being worked out, but according to the American people, the date is late, nonetheless. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said Republicans will attend a meeting at the White House on Thursday. President Obama invited the full caucus, however, a Boehner spokesman said that they will only be sending a small group of negotiators.
“Nine days into a government shutdown and a week away from breaching the debt ceiling, a meeting is only worthwhile if it is focused on finding a solution,” Boehner’s office said. “It is our hope that this will be a constructive meeting and that the president finally recognizes Americans expect their leaders to be able to sit down and resolve their differences.”
Meanwhile, conservative Republicans in Congress are exploring the possibility of a short-term increase in the debt ceiling, in a possible attempt to seize the opening given by President Obama a day earlier when he said he would consider the option. Although many would not take the president’s comments at face value considering he said he’s “absolutely” willing to accept a short-term measure to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling, but he’s only willing to negotiate with Republicans after that.
The Republican Study Committee is the most conservative caucus-like committee in the House and they are the lawmakers considering this possibility, which flies in the face of the media narrative claiming them to be extremists. They are, in fact, inclined to consider a short-term increase, but only if there is an agreement on larger spending reforms.
The issue will no doubt be part of the discussion at the White House, even though the move to “summon” congressional leaders in turn seems to be more political sandbagging, then an actual good-faith attempt to come to an agreement.
Republicans, however, are doing themselves no favors by perpetuating the myth of default. “Clearly, Republicans want to avoid default,” Rep. Kevin Brady R-TX, said. But Moody’s Investor Services has released a memo stating that there is “no direct connection” between the debt ceiling and default.
Did Republicans – conservative and moderate – get that memo?