Dueling invites: Now Senate Dems Invite Obama to the Hill

Jun 30, 2011 1:39pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller (@sunlenmiller) reports:

In a case of dueling invitations, Senate Democrats have now invited President Obama to the Hill next week to continue the negotiations to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

Calling Senate Minority Leader McConnell’s invitation to Obama to come to the Hill a “stunt,” the Democratic leadership announced today that they have invited President Obama and Vice President Biden to meet with Senators on Wednesday of next week.

“Leader McConnell knows that the president’s door has always been open, the president’s availability has never been in question,” Senator Schumer, D-N.Y., said, “we don’t need any more stunts. We need a willingness from both sides to give a little.”

The White House has turned down the invitation from Senator McConnell, R-Ky.,  to come to the Hill today.  It is not clear yet whether they will accept Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s invitation but he said he is “confident” that either the President and VP will come to the Hill, or Senators will go to the White House.

Reid, D-Nev., outlined what next week in the Senate will look like, a series of meetings on the debt ceiling, after he announced this morning he is cancelling next week’s planned recess for the Senate.

“Focusing all next week,” Reid said in announcing the schedule of events centered around the debt ceiling.

On Tuesday, when the Senate comes back into session, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Kent Conrad, D-N.D., will reveal his budget to the Democratic caucus.

On Wednesday there will be another caucus meeting, called so the president and vice president could join on the Hill.

On Thursday, President Obama’s economic team, led by Gene Sperling, will come to the Hill to meet with Senators.

“The whole caucus has to be involved in where we’re headed with this,” Reid said.

The main obstacles facing the negotiations is a stalemate over taxes.  Republicans have been preaching that any deal must not include any added revenues. Democrats today called the Republicans' position on revenues “stubborn,” “rigid” and like a broken record called again for revenues to be considered as part of a package together with spending cuts.

“If we can’t bring revenue to the table, we’re not going to have a serious conversation about dealing with this deficit,” Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill.,  said.

Reid said they discussed four different proposals with President Obama at the White House yesterday, and those proposals will be talked through next week.

Amid some questioning from Republicans about the August 2 deadline for action set by the administration, Durbin stressed that the deadline is very real and very serious.

“We are talking about the possibility that the United States would default in the first time in its history,” Durbin said, “playing games with this August 2 deadline endangers this recovery.  If it looks like we may not meet our responsibility and extend this debt ceiling, interest rates will go up, exactly the worst thing that we can ask for in times of recovery.”

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