It's Day 10 of the partial federal government shutdown, and the big news is a meeting between President Obama and a select group of House Republicans.
The president will host the meeting, to include about 20 key Republicans, which is aimed at finding a way around the partisan differences. The White House and Democrats want a "clean" continuing resolution to restore funding to government operations, but a substantial bloc of conservative Republicans in the House insist that such a temporary spending measure be tied to defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act.
But the fight over the continuing resolution has morphed into a high-stakes debate over raising the debt ceiling, which has to happen in the next week to forestall a likely U.S. default.
Thursday's noon meeting at the White House and signs of a possible compromise from Republicans have some pundits talking of a "thaw" that could produce a deal. In an opinion piece published Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan outlined a plan to extend the nation's borrowing limit for four to six weeks on condition that both sides sit down to deficit-reduction talks.
"Republicans have moved on from their original demand and are instead seeking an avenue for budget talks that could result in long-term agreements to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit. Democrats say they are open to such talks, but only after the shutdown ends and the default threat is off the table."
"The White House said the session isn't a negotiation, in keeping with Mr. 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."
And The Washington Post reported Wednesday:
"[House Speaker John Boehner] has closed the door on the idea of voting for a clean continuing resolution to reopen the government and a clean bill to raise the debt limit. But a short-term version of both might be least painful way out of what's proven to be a very tough situation for him.
"If Boehner were to agree to a very short-term say, six to eight weeks debt ceiling extension and government funding bill, he could sell it to his conference as a chance to get Democrats to the negotiating table on health-care and spending. And in short order, Republicans would have some leverage once again, as yet another shutdown would be triggered without a deal and the risk of default would be resurrected without another debt ceiling increase."
Update At 12:30 p.m. EDT. House GOP Offers New Plan For Debt Ceiling Deal
House Speaker John Boehner says he and fellow Republicans are willing to compromise and pass a temporary extension of the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling in exchange for substantive negotiations on other fiscal matters. You can read the full details here.