WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) —The partisan logjam that has paralyzed the capital showed signs of easing, as House GOP leaders prepared for their first meeting with President Barack Obama since the government shutdown began.
Top House Republicans prepared to head to the White House Thursday to discuss the issues underlying the standoff that has resulted in the nine-day partial government shutdown and that now threatens the country’s ability to borrow.
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The White House said the session isn’t a negotiation, in keeping with Obama’s demand that lawmakers raise the debt ceiling and fully reopen the government without conditions before policy talks are held. But the meeting may allow House Republicans to say they had a policy conversation with the president, which they have been saying is a condition of resolving the impasse.
Solving an immediate impasse over the debt ceiling wouldn’t necessarily resolve the spending fight that has closed the government. Many of the same conservatives who backed a short-term extension of the country’s borrowing authority said they are willing to keep parts of the government shuttered in order to keep fighting over the health law.
Obama has invited the two parties’ House and Senate caucuses to meet with him separately at the White House this week. But House Republican leaders, rather than sending their full membership of 232 lawmakers, on Wednesday said they would send 18, giving the meeting the sense of a more focused conversation.
The clearest sign of movement Wednesday was among House conservatives. After weeks of insisting that any measure to fund the government or keep it solvent include language to dismantle or delay the health law, conservatives have shifted their focus to broader — and potentially more achievable — deficit-reduction demands.