Obama summons leaders to White House as hopes rise for budget deal
By Justin Sink - 10/14/13 12:07 PM ET
President Obama plans to meet with top congressional leaders on Monday afternoon amid signs that senators could be nearing a deal to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.
Obama will meet with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at 3:00 pm, a White House official said. Vice President Biden will attend as well.
“With only a few days until the government runs out of borrowing authority, the president will make clear the need for Congress to act to pay our bills, and reopen the government," the official said in a statement. "The president will also reiterate our principles to the leaders: we will not pay a ransom for Congress reopening the government and raising the debt limit."
Centrist senators on Monday signaled that an agreement to end the fiscal impasse could be within reach.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has taken a lead role in bipartisan talks, on Monday said senators were “making progress” toward a deal though they’re “not there yet.”
“We're going to continue to meet throughout the day. And the conversations have been very constructive. We're not going to release any details until we have an agreement. I hope we will have an agreement,” Collins said.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who has been involved in the talks with Collins, told CNN lawmakers were 70 to 80 percent of the way to an agreement.
The stock market, which took a dive on Monday morning, began to rebound early Monday afternoon as positive signs emerged from Washington.
Democrats are pushing for a shorter-term spending bill that would reopen the government, coupled with a long-term extension of the debt ceiling. That would allow Democrats to push for a repeal of the automatic cuts from sequestration in the near future.
Republicans, meanwhile, are touting a proposal from Collins that would keep the sequester in place but allow greater discretion in how it was applied. Her plan would also raise the debt limit and change some aspects of ObamaCare.
Democrats have thus far rejected the Collins plan, although lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have indicated that it could serve as the basis for a final agreement.
Lawmakers are scrambling to reach an agreement before the Thursday deadline for raising the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says the government’s borrowing authority will be exhausted on that day, leaving the nation at risk of default.
“There is a lot of concern about whether we’re going to meet this deadline — I think at the end of the day we will," Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told NBC News. "But to do so, we really have to move ahead today with a Senate agreement, and then the House has got to be open to focusing on those things that make our country stronger which is spending restraints."
Sen. Jon Tester told CNBC he’s optimistic that senators will find a way out.
"I feel more hopeful now than I have since October 1," Tester said. “I think both Harry [Reid] and Mitch [McConnell] are talking, and I think it's going to result in something good."
The White House has remained mostly silent during the weekend negotiations, save for a phone call between the president and Pelosi on Sunday.
Following the call, the White House said the leaders "reinforced that there must be a clean debt limit increase that allows us to pay the bills we have incurred and avoid default, and that the House needs to pass the clean continuing resolution to open up the government and end the shutdown."