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Obama Holds Meeting with House Republicans as Shutdown Continues

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Obama Holds Meeting with House Republicans as Shutdown Continues

October 11, 2013

Wednesday marked day nine of the federal government shutdown. There have been few indications that any party is willing to budge from their position. Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders continue to speak to the media, holding press conferences and giving interviews, but they are not talking to each other. Democrats and the White House have held firm in saying that they will not renegotiate settled law, and they will not negotiate on the point of raising the debt ceiling to ensure the United States does not default on its financial obligations. Republicans continue to press President Obama to come to the table and talk about the looming fiscal crisis. 

On Tuesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) rejected a short-term deal proffered by the White House that would end the shutdown and lift the debt ceiling, in return for a promise of entering into talks about broader financial and budget issues. Boehner characterized the offer as a demand for "unconditional surrender" from Republicans. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) proposed an idea at a meeting of the Republican Study Committee that calls for structural changes to Medicare and Social Security to be implemented in exchange for a resolution to the shutdown and the debt ceiling. Ryan's proposal does not make mention of defunding or repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was at the start of the shutdown one of the main issues Republican leadership were talking about. On Thursday, Ryan called for a budget conference between the House and the Senate. 

On Thursday, President Obama extended an invitation to all Republican members of the House to meet with him. Boehner opted to send a delegation of 18 GOP House members, saying that a smaller group would be more likely to have a productive conversation and resolve differences. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Thursday signaled the president would likely be willing to sign a "clean" debt ceiling increase, even if it did not include a continuing resolution to appropriate funds necessary to reopen the government. 

Also on Thursday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testified before the Senate Finance Committee about the consequences of not raising the debt ceiling. He said that failure to raise the debt ceiling and pay the United States' financial obligations would result in serious, long-term negative consequences for future generations. In his testimony, he emphasized that raising the debt ceiling has had bipartisan support in the past, and that several arguments against it do not reflect a realistic understanding of the consequences.