A White House official announced Wednesday morning that President Obama invited Hill leaders to a 5:30 pm meeting at the White House to talk shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have all been invited, according to the official. Boehner's taking the invitation seriously, at least — his spokesman Brendan Buck told Politico: "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."
But Boehner still insists that it's Obama who won't negotiate. Buck also said, "We’re pleased the president finally recognizes that his refusal to negotiate is indefensible." Obama will encourage Boehner to get House Republicans to pass a clean spending bill — no anti-Obamacare amendments — so that the government can reopen. The National Review's Robert Costa, who's been covering the shutdown debate extensively, thinks Boehner is fine keeping the government shut down until next week, "when debt-limit talks are expected to start as impasse continues." But Dan Pfeiffer, an Obama senior advisor, responded to Costa, "why do [Republicans] think there will be debt limit talks?" So Obama probably isn't planning on discussing the looming debt ceiling deadline.
Pfeiffer remarked last week when asked about debt limit talks, "What we're not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest." Does the White House no longer think Republicans are wearing suicide vests? Even Republicans are puzzled. According to Costa, Republican leadership aides are "confused" about the invite, wondering if Obama really wants to negotiate, or is looking for a photo op.