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Posted at 03:23 PM ET, 07/20/2011

As ‘Gang of Six’ continues to brief members, Cantor and Boehner huddle with Obama Wednesday to talk debt limit


(Alex Wong - VIA BLOOMBERG)
The top two House Republicans are set to visit the White House Wednesday evening for their latest debt-limit meeting with President Obama.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will meet with Obama at 5 p.m., according to a House Republican leadership aide.

The gathering follows a meeting Wednesday afternoon between Obama and Senate and House Democratic leaders. That huddle was slated to begin at 2:50 p.m.

Both meetings come as the bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators have been making the rounds on Capitol Hill briefing members from both chambers on their long-term deficit reduction plan. The details of the gang’s proposal remain sketchy, but early reaction has been positive; Obama on Tuesday hailed it as a “very significant step” in the ongoing debt-limit talks, while Cantor and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that they are still leaving the door open to such a plan.

The Gang of Six is comprised of Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Mike Crapo (Idaho) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.). Coburn had left the group in May over an impasse with Democrats over entitlement spending but made his formal return this week, one day after unveiling his own plan aimed at achieving $9 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade.

The group’s three Republicans have been briefing fellow Republicans on the Hill about their plan, while the gang’s trio of Democrats has been doing the same among their Democratic colleagues. Wednesday afternoon, Conrad, Durbin and Warner held a briefing on the plan for House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and more than a dozen other House Democrats.

After the hour-long briefing with House Democrats, Conrad told reporters that members’ questions “ran the full gamut,” ranging from the workings of the revenue and spending provisions to the process going forward ahead of the Treasury’s Aug. 2 deadline for a debt-limit deal to be passed.

“We’ve gone over in some detail the plan of the group of six, and this is part of the ongoing effort to inform colleagues so they have a better chance to evaluate what we’ve proposed,” Conrad said.

Conrad declined to say whether he viewed the plan’s prospects as better or worse after Wednesday’s meeting.

“In fairness to (members), this is their first briefing,” he said. “We’d sent over written material yesterday. They have to be given a fair chance to review that and have their staffs review it and give them analysis. So I think it’s too early to say.”

In addition to Hoyer and Van Hollen, among the House Democrats who attended Wednesday’s briefing were Reps. Jared Polis (Colo.), Brad Sherman (Calif.), Bobby Scott (Va.), Jim Moran (Va.), Peter Welch (Vt.), Ron Kind (Wis.), John Barrow (Ga.), Dennis Cardoza (Calif.) and David Price (N.C.).

“At this point, I think most members of our caucus are interested in learning more about the proposal,” Polis said after the meeting. “We saw it for the first time yesterday; we’re getting briefed on the details, and that’s a very important step in building support for rescuing our nation from fiscal disaster.”

Asked whether he thought the Gang of Six proposal was more likely to be taken up than a compromise being drafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Polis said he didn’t necessarily see the two as mutually exclusive.

“There might very well need to be something short-term,” he said. “It’s unlikely that a comprehensive solution could be fully papered in time to avert a crisis, so there might have to be some stopgap measures.”

Warner was to meet one-on-one with Reid later Wednesday, after Democratic leaders returned from the White House.

By  |  03:23 PM ET, 07/20/2011

 
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