White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday said President Obama is “disappointed” that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is “preventing his members from coming to the White House” to discuss the shutdown and debt ceiling.
“The president thought it was important to talk directly with the members who forced this economic crisis on the country about how the shutdown and a failure to pay the country’s bills could devastate the economy,” Carney said in a statement.
"Nine days into a government shutdown and a week away from breaching the debt ceiling, a meeting is only worthwhile if it is focused on finding a solution," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said. "That’s why the House Republican Conference will instead be represented by a smaller group of negotiators, including the elected leadership and certain committee chairmen."
Calling the 18 participants "negotiators" is likely to needle the White House, which has insisted repeatedly that it is unwilling to offer concessions in exchange for reopening the government or averting the debt ceiling.
But the composition of the smaller group could be an encouraging sign for a deal. In bringing only top committee chairmen and leadership members, the Tea Party-aligned backbenchers who drove Boehner to demand a delay or defunding of ObamaCare will not be present.
“The president will talk to anyone anytime and looks forward to their visit to the White House, but will not pay the Republicans ransom for doing their job," Carney said. "If the Republicans want to have a real discussion they should open the government and take the threat of default off the table.”
Along with Boehner, attendees will include House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Policy Committee Chairman James Lankford (R-Okla.).
Also attending are Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Steve Southerland (R-Fla.), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Peter Roskam (R-Ill.)
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) will also make the trip.
The meeting with Republicans follows a conference Wednesday at the White House with all House Democrats. The Senate Democratic and Republican conferences have also been invited.
--This report was originally published at 2:48 p.m. and last updated at 3:35 p.m.