Ten days into the government shutdown, there is evidence of a possible break in the political stalemate.
On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner proposed a short-term debt ceiling increase — if President Obama will negotiate on opening the government.
That plan may be presented to Obama this afternoon, when a delegation of Republican negotiators will meet at the White House.
In response to reports that the House GOP was considering a short-term deal, the White House released a statement urging Congress to take the threat of default off the table “for as long as possible” and endorsing the Senate Democrats effort to raise the debt ceiling for one year.
The statement also pressed House Republicans to end the government shutdown by allowing a vote on a “clean” government funding bill.
The president had invited all 232 Republicans in the House, but House Speaker John Boehner opted to send a smaller delegation: 18 leadership members and committee chairmen, including House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, ranking Republican on the House Finance Committee Rep. Jeb Hensarling, and Paul Ryan, whose Wall Street Journal editorial set the stage for the GOP to shift towards the numbers in the debt conversation.
“President Obama is disappointed that Speaker Boehner is preventing his members from coming to the White House,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday. ”The president thought it was important to talk directly with the members who forced this economic crisis on the country.”
Boehner’s office said they’d opted for a smaller group in hopes of making the meeting more productive.
The Democratic caucus met with the president for over an hour on Wednesday, where the president thanked them for their support of “clean” continuing resolutions. They’ll rally on Thursday morning in support of ending the shutdown.
Appearing on Thursday’s Morning Joe, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) said negotiations are struggling because the Republican caucus can’t agree on their position.
“What we have right now is the Speaker minute to minute doesn’t know what his position is because he continues to consult with the caucus and specifically, is driven by the most radical parts of the caucus,” he said.
On Wednesday, yet another piecemeal funding bill passed the House, this one to fund the Federal Aviation Administration. It will now be sent to the Senate, where it won’t see a vote. This is the 11th piecemeal funding bill to pass the House; five other partial funding bills have been introduced and will be considered in the coming days, according to NBC News.
The House unanimously passed a bill that would provide fallen soldier’s families with death benefits, but for now, the bill will be dead on arrival in the Senate.
A charity, the Fisher House, has agreed to pay the death benefits temporarily and the White House, which had spoken with lawyers and the Department of Defense to try and find a short-term fix, signed off on the philanthropic Band-Aid, according to NBC News. The Department of Defense will reimburse the organization later. Another charity, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, has also agreed to give each of the families $20,000.
“People there knew this would happen, even before the government shutdown,” NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell said on Morning Joe.
This shutdown is unlike anything the country’s ever seen before, Mitchell said, because it’s about the stalemate more than the issues.
“This is not an argument over dollars, I can’t figure this out—it’s the Seinfeld shutdown, the shutdown about nothing,” Mitchell said with exasperation.
But Politico’s Jim VanDeHei sees promise in the thawing relations.
“I now believe we’re going to have a deal. I think within days to avoid the debt limit crisis and potentially to even reopen the government,” VandeHei said on Morning Joe. “There isn’t any formal announcement coming out today or in the next couple days but almost every sign now is moving towards a compromise.”
VandeHei pointed out a handful of good signs: the president is open to a short-term deal, respected Republican leaders, Rep. Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, are both getting involved in negotiations, and big business is pressuring the GOP.
“At least it would avoid the debt limit crisis, it might get the government up and running again and give us the possibility of talks that, who knows, once you get in a room maybe something can happen,” he said.