By Amie Parnes - 10/02/13 10:06 PM EDT
President Obama is meeting with congressional leaders at the White House to discuss an end to the government shutdown.
On the shutdown’s second day, Obama invited congressional leaders to the White House to discuss reopening the government and also raising the debt limit. The meeting began at 5:41 p.m.
This is the first time Obama has met with congressional leaders to negotiate on a government funding bill, and is also the first time the White House has indicated it wants to link funding the government to talks on raising the debt ceiling.
White House press secretary Jay Carney shot down the idea that the meeting would be a "negotiation."
He indicated Obama would repeat his demand that House Republicans approve a government-funding bill that includes no language on ObamaCare.
"What the president is asking Republicans in Congress to do is quite literally the least they could do," Carney said.
Republicans also indicated that they did not expect a substantive negotiation, suggesting the meeting could be little more than a photo-op.
"Just yesterday, the president reaffirmed that he would not negotiate with Congress, and Senate Democrats actually voted not to negotiate," McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said in an email.
"So frankly, we’re a little confused as to the purpose of this meeting," he said. "If the president wants to sit on the sidelines during this critical debate and is serious about Congress finding a solution, then he will urge Senate Democrats to agree to the request by the House of Representatives to convene a conference committee."
Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said that the Speaker's office had not yet spoken to the White House about tying the debt ceiling hike to a continuing resolution, but that "it seems like a logical progression."
On Wednesday, House Republicans still planned to press ahead with votes on five separate measures to fund certain parts of government — veterans benefits, national parks, the D.C. government, the National Institutes of Health and the National Guard.
The GOP brought three of those proposals to the floor Tuesday night under a procedure that required a two-thirds vote for passage, meaning that Republicans needed dozens of Democrats to join them. All three measures fell short.
Obama has said repeatedly he would not negotiate with House Republicans over raising the debt ceiling. He has also repeatedly said he would not agree to delay or repeal of ObamaCare to keep the government funded.
“I will not negotiate over Congress’s responsibility to pay bills its already racked up,” Obama told reporters Tuesday. “I’m not going to allow anybody to drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud just to refight a settled election or extract ideological demands.”
Republicans have hammered Obama for refusing to negotiate, and Buck said Wednesday the speaker was “pleased the president finally recognizes that his refusal to negotiate is indefensible.”
“It’s unclear why we’d be having this meeting if it’s not meant to be a start to serious talks between the two parties,” Buck said.
Reid reportedly urged Obama not to call a meeting of congressional leaders last week, arguing it would weaken Democrats' leverage.
Polls suggest more of the public blames Republicans for the shutdown, which has bolstered the confidence of the White House and congressional Democrats. Republicans accused Democrats of rooting for a shutdown before it began on Tuesday.
Yet the White House has reason to worry in the fight, too, as the shutdown takes unexpected turns.
Headlines over the last 24 hours have included stories about World War II veterans encountering barricades at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., something Republicans have seized on to criticize the White House.
— This story was poasted at 11:40 a.m. and updated at 6:06 p.m.