President Barack Obama will meet with congressional leaders late Wednesday about ending a government shutdown -- now in its second day -- and raising the debt limit.
However, this get-together can hardly be considered progress, as Obama’s stance remains the same: He wants Congress to pass a continuing resolution with no strings attached, and the president is still refusing to offer any concession to Republicans.
The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“He will not play the game Republicans are playing,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a press conference this afternoon.
Obama will be meeting face-to-face 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. Vice President Joe Biden will join them, according to some reports.
Carney explained that a negotiation on Capitol Hill involves some tradeoffs, something that will not be the basis of this meeting, as Obama “is asking for nothing from Republicans.”
“He is attaching no partisan strings to his request that Congress fulfill its responsibility,” Carney said. “What the president is asking the Congress to do is quite literally the least they can do.”
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner’s office told the media they are pleased the president is seeing it is “indefensible” to refuse to negotiate. But questions remain.
“It’s unclear why we’d be having this meeting if it’s not meant to be a start to serious talks between the two parties,” Brendan Buck told CNN.
A feud between Democrats and Republicans over the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, has prevented them from finding consensus on keeping the federal government open. House Republicans have promised to continue fighting Obamacare along with the debt-limit increase that is due the middle of this month.
House Republicans have proposed several temporary funding solutions that defund or delay the health care law, and Democrats have voted down every single one, demanding the House pass a bill with no strings attached. Only then will they return to the negotiating table, Democrats have said.
Carney said Boehner should hold a vote on the clean bill, which would fund the government with approximately $986 billion.
“Unfortunately the speaker will not do that because he is responding to the demands of one faction of one party in one house in one branch of government,” Carney said, “and everyone is paying the price for that decision.”
Republicans, in the meantime, are proceeding with a series of mini-resolutions to appropriate funding for some popular areas such as Veterans Affairs, the national parks, and the National Institutes of Health. Some of these piecemeal bills failed to garner the two-third majority votes needed on Tuesday to pass under the suspension of rules. The House will again bring the measures to the floor today, this time under regular rules.