On Saturday morning, Majority Leader
"The conversation was extremely cordial but very preliminary — nothing conclusive," Reid said at a news conference. "This should be seen as something very positive — even though we don't have anything done yet and there is a long ways to go."
Senate Republicans have expressed frustration with the apparent indifference of their House counterparts to the political toll that has been taken on the party by the shutdown and the threat of a potentially catastrophic default on the nation's debt.
On Saturday, Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic plan to suspend the debt limit through next year. But senators from both parties said there was an urgent need to pass legislation to raise the nation's borrowing limit as soon as possible before Thursday. The
Reid and other Democratic leaders briefed Obama on the talks Saturday afternoon; no further talks between Reid and McConnell were expected Saturday night. Aides said the conversations between party leaders remained at an early stage.
The Senate was set to hold a rare Sunday session — the first since last year's impasse over the
Collins has offered a proposal to temporarily raise the debt limit and reopen the government in exchange for delaying the medical-device tax in the Affordable Care Act and other concessions. She said her proposal continued "to attract bipartisan support," and she planned to continue to consult with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. But Reid said her plan was "not going anyplace."
"The real conversation that matters now is the one that's taking place between McConnell and Reid," Sen.
Reid said Republicans have abandoned their drive to gut the Affordable Care Act and have focused on reducing government spending. "Their No. 1 issue is to do anything they can to divert attention from the fools they've made of themselves on Obamacare," he said.
Since McConnell cut the deal last December with Vice President
His move to reenter the fray reflects McConnell's calculation that his ultimate political goal — leading a Senate with a Republican majority — was imperiled by the hard-line position of the Republicans in the House.
As the government shutdown moved into its second week, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll offered sobering numbers for the party. The survey indicated that the public overwhelmingly blamed the GOP and increasingly opposed an effort by conservatives to use the shutdown as leverage to dismantle Obama's healthcare law. That trend, were it to continue, could strengthen the position of Democratic incumbents in traditionally Republican states and hurt GOP candidates in Democratic-leaning states.
Notably, the compromise effort in the Senate was led by Collins, the only Republican who is seeking reelection next year in a state that Obama carried in 2012. Alexander, too, faces reelection. Both senators appear safe at this early stage, but Collins in particular has said it is important for Republicans to improve their standing with voters.
"There's no doubt that the Republican poll numbers are appallingly bad — the Democrats are going down also. But there's a more important issue here than poll numbers, and that is about our ability to govern and to show the American people that we can do what is right and that we care about them," Collins said. "And I hope that isn't lost in this continuing attempt to score partisan political points."
Many House Republicans are inoculated against broader national political trends, thanks to a redistricting process that cemented the party's majority. More than two-thirds of House Republicans represent districts in which
One of those Republicans, Rep.
Other House Republicans charged that the White House was pitting Republicans in the two chambers against one another. "I think what he's trying to do is undermine our position by getting the Senate to cut some kind of ridiculous deal," said Rep.
A similar scenario played out at the start of the year to resolve the so-called fiscal cliff, when the deal worked out between McConnell and Biden won overwhelming approval in the Senate and forced House leaders to allow a vote that passed with only limited Republican support.
"We're not going to roll over and take that," Ryan said after leaving the closed-door Republican meeting.
But Boehner's message to the rank-and-file was also an admission that the House had run out of options.
"If I'm sitting on the Senate side, I'm not going to sit around and say, ‘Gosh hopefully the House Republicans will do something.' I'm going to get to work," said Rep.