Senate GOP at White House amid optimism on ending shutdown
Senate Republicans gathered to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House amid green shoots of optimism that an end to the federal government's shutdown could be within reach.
The Senate GOP met with the president after a late-Thursday meeting between top House Republicans and Obama jump-started hopes of an end to the stalemate that threatened a default on the national debt, and a federal government shutdown that extended into its 11th day on Friday.
The Senate Republicans' meeting included moderates who have been working to craft an agreement to reopen the government, as well as conservative firebrands like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who delivered an unflinching defense of his role in the government shutdown before a gathering of conservative activists hours before the meeting.
The meeting between Obama and his chief Republican adversaries in the House on Thursday prompted a sharp change in tone from the acrimony that had come to define fiscal negotiations in Washington over the past few months.
GOP negotiators worked with Obama administration aides through the night to cobble together a short-term agreement to both extend the nation's borrowing authority and reinstate funding for vital government operations. If both of those conditions are met, Obama has said he would then -- and only then -- be willing to engage in broader fiscal negotiations with Republicans.
Republicans were said to be offering a six-week extension of government borrowing, and perhaps a reinstatement of government funding -- the second of which Obama demanded on top of an initial Republican offer on Thursday to only raise the debt limit. Democrats are wary, though, of such a short extension in the debt limit, and Republicans in the Senate may offer their own alternative plan.
The stakes from the talks are high on several fronts. Financial markets have nervously watched Washington for signs of an agreement that would avoid default on the national debt by Oct. 17, the deadline by which Congress must extend the government's borrowing authority.
The fiscal standoff also had broad political implications, as well. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday found that unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party had reached all-time highs, and that 70 percent of Americans disapproved of the way in which Republicans in Congress were handling the budget standoff.
The pressure from Wall Street, combined with sharply changing public opinion against the GOP, has helped prompt Republican leaders' recent work toward reaching an ad
Republican leaders appeared cautiously optimistic late Thursday, saying that a 90 minute meeting with the president was fruitful, even though both sides did not come to an agreement about a temporary hike in the debt ceiling.
"I left thinking I believe it is possible for us to get it all done," House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said, adding that the overnight negotiations would be "critical to the success" of a deal.
“The president didn't say yes, he didn't say no,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan told NBC News of the House proposal to raise the debt ceiling for six weeks. “It was a useful conversations. We're now going to negotiate."
Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, the vice chairman of the House GOP Conference, told CNBC that House leaders hope to have the government reopened by Monday.
If negotiators from the White House and the House Republican leadership team reach an agreement, Boehner may need Democratic votes to pass it and send it on to the Senate.
On Thursday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that she was reluctant to accept the six-week raise in the debt ceiling, arguing that markets may be spooked by the brief timeline for further negotiations.
“I think a six-week lifting of the debt ceiling is not the right way to go,” Pelosi said after House Democrats met with President Barack Obama. “I think we should go at least one year so that there's some certainty in the markets and that every six weeks people don't have to wonder if the United States of America is going to stand by its full faith and credit.”
But, she added, Democrats would wait to see a full package of ideas from House Republicans on how to address the ongoing fiscal fight.
“Let's see what it is,” she said of a GOP proposal. “Give it a chance if it has any value.”