Obama to meet with Hill leaders as contours of deal emerge - WSMV Channel 4

Obama to meet with Hill leaders as contours of deal emerge

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By Michael O'Brien, Political Reporter, NBC News

President Barack Obama will meet with leaders in Congress on Monday afternoon as the contours of an deal to avert a default on the national debt and reopen the federal government started to emerge.

A White House official said that Obama and Vice President Joe Biden would host Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the White House at 3 p.m. this afternoon.

"With only a few days until the government runs out of borrowing authority, the president will make clear the need for Congress to act to pay our bills, and reopen the government," the official said. "The president will also reiterate our principles to the leaders: we will not pay a ransom for Congress reopening the government and raising the debt limit."

The meeting comes amid signs of a potential agreement on the debt ceiling and government shutdown emerging from a bipartisan group of senators, who inched closer to a plan that would provide a way out of twin fiscal crises that has beguiled Washington for much of the last month.

"I do sense that people are getting back on the right page here," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said on the TODAY show. "And I do hope that by the end of the day we'll have an agreement that makes sense for our country."

Negotiations were mostly concentrated in the Senate, where the spotlight turned over the weekend after House Republicans failed to produce a proposal that satisfied President Barack Obama. 

But a deal is not yet in hand, as lawmakers remain ensnared on several familiar issues that have scuttled budget agreements in past, similar standoffs.

Reid, D-Nev., and his Republican counterpart, McConnell, Ky., are talking. But their negations, as of Sunday night, were so far "inconclusive," according to a senior Democratic aide. 

The emerging effort involves a bipartisan plan being crafted by a group of centrist senators. An initial proposal spearheaded by Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican, helps form the basis of a possible agreement, even though Democrats rejected Collins's initial proposal. Her plan had called for reopening the government and extending the debt ceiling through January in exchange for several concessions involving Obamacare, including a delay of the medical device tax and income verification measures for subsidies contained within the law.

Another large sticking point involves spending levels during the 2014 calendar year, and whether the federal budget should be subjected to another year of across-the-board cuts known as the "sequester." An initial round of those cuts took effect earlier this year. 

Democrats involved in the bipartisan talks with Collins said that while negotiations are ongoing, "there is no agreement." For his part, McConnell has embraced the original Collins plan, an important Republican endorsement.

Still, the continued talks meant Washington is still scrambling to piece together some sort of agreement before the Oct. 17 deadline by which the Treasury Department says Congress must authorize increased borrowing to meet the government's existing obligations. Moreover, a federal government shutdown that has placed hundreds of thousands of government workers onto furlough and affected millions more Americans entered its 14th day on Monday.

Though the pressure on Congress to produce will intensify as negotiations drag on, the business of legislating on Monday – a federal holiday – was hardly in frenzy. The Senate wasn't set to convene until 2 p.m. on Monday, and the House wouldn't meet until noon. (The House had one vote scheduled, on a mini-spending bill, at 6:30 p.m.)

The weekend's developments (or lack thereof) represent a pessimistic turn since last Thursday, when a meeting between Obama and House GOP leaders raised hopes of an agreement, at least in the short term, to reopen the government and avert a default by this week's deadline.

As the debate played out, Obama spent Sunday at the White House, where he spoke by telephone to Pelosi, D-Calif. Obama had no public events scheduled for Monday, though his daily agenda is always subject to change. 

Meanwhile, Boehner, R-Ohio, to date the central Republican figure in the shutdown fight, took a backseat to negotiations in the Senate. But Boehner's importance in the instance of an eventual agreement could be critical, given his longtime struggle to main control of the House GOP's restive conservative flank.

Even if the Senate were to reach an agreement, history suggests that product would face a treacherous battle to passage in the House. Often in past standoffs, conservatives within the GOP balked at the legislation handed to them by leaders, forcing Boehner to instead court Democrats. If the Boehner is driven to depending on Democrats to pass an agreement on the shutdown and debt limit, he might invite a revolution against him by fellow Republicans.

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