WASHINGTON — Thursday was Day 10 of the government shutdown, and for the first time there was a glimmer of hope coming out of the nation’s capital.
President Obama met separately at the White House with leaders from both the House and the Senate about a potential deal to avert a government default.
The breakthrough came when Republicans made a concession by agreeing to a short-term extension of the debt ceiling – for only six weeks – if the president would agree to sit down and negotiate the budget and other items with them. Up until now they have said they wanted to talk first before they would approve any extension.
Washington state’s delegation is actually playing a big role in all of this. It was Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chairwoman of the GOP Conference in the House, who first announced the new Republican plan Thursday morning.
“We’ll offer legislation that will offer a temporary increase in the debt ceiling to allow us to some time to continue this conversation, because it is time for solutions,” McMorris Rodgers said.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the offer represented movement on the part of the GOP.
“I would hope that the president would look at this as an opportunity and a good-faith effort on our part to move halfway, halfway, to what he’s demanded in order to have these conversations begin,” Boehner said.
What wasn’t yet clear, because the offer wasn’t in writing, was what kind of conditions the House GOP is going to place on this debt ceiling extension offer. And will it include any provisions for reopening the government, something the president has said repeatedly must happen.
“Let’s wait and see what the House does,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said. “When they send us something, we’ll look at it as clearly and as closely as we can under the same determination that we’ve made, open the government. There is so much pain and suffering out there.”
House leaders met with the president late Thursday afternoon to sound out their proposal with him. They left the White House meeting without making any statements. Later on Capitol Hill, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the discussions will continue.