One week to go until the debt ceiling deadline, now 10 days into the government shutdown, and neither side has budged in the fiscal showdown.
Thursday is shaping up to be a critical day for any possible breakthroughs, with a series of key huddles of Republicans and meetings at the White House. With such big deadlines so close, time is becoming as much of an enemy to reaching a deal as the ideological divide between the two parties.
President Obama refuses to negotiate any budget framework until House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) advances a plan to reopen the government and increase the debt ceiling, without any sweeteners for conservatives. Boehner says doing that would be “surrender.”
If either is to move off those positions, it may have to come amid the key meetings Thursday:
●10 a.m., House Republican Conference meets. For the second time this week, Boehner will convene his GOP caucus in the Capitol basement. Many Republicans have increasingly focused on broad drivers of debt without so much focus on trying to repeal or defund the new health-care law, as leaders had hoped would happen several weeks ago. It’s unclear whether a vast majority of Republicans hold such a view, and this huddle will illuminate that.
●11 a.m., Boehner and his leadership team hold a news conference after the caucus meeting. The speaker usually conducts the Thursday press event solo, but this time he will have House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and other elected leaders at his side.
●12:30 p.m., Senate Republicans meet. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (Ky.) caucus holds the usual party gathering on Thursdays, a weekly meeting that is meant to be a lighthearted affair hosted by a rotating senator. Most recent meetings have been anything but lighthearted, with veteran Republicans worried that there is no broad strategy of how to handle the upcoming deadlines.
●Early afternoon, Senate Democrats head to the White House. The precise time is to be determined, but Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) is bringing the entire Democratic caucus to meet with Obama and other White House officials. So far, Reid’s caucus and Obama’s team have sung from the same political hymnal, a marked contrast to the negotiations in the 2011 debt ceiling showdown, when they fought publicly for several weeks over strategy.
●2:30 p.m., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hosts her weekly news conference. Fresh off a House Democratic meeting with Obama on Wednesday, Pelosi is still pushing for Boehner to bring up “clean” funding and debt limit bills.
●Late afternoon, House Republicans head to the White House. Unlike the other caucuses, Boehner’s team turned down the request to have all 232 House Republicans attend. Instead, the party leadership and key committee chairmen will represent the group in the meeting with the president. If there’s any big news of the day, it might come here.