President Barack Obama and House Republicans are at least on speaking terms.
But don't mistake this for a negotiation.
The White House said Friday afternoon that Obama spoke with Speaker of the House John Boehner, but did not accept the House Republicans' latest offer, which would temporarily raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government that is now shutdown for the 11th straight day.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday that Obama and Boehner agreed that "everybody should keep talking."
"Talks have been constructive," Carney said, adding that Republican leaders recognized that the shutdown and the threat of default were very damaging.
However, Carney said Obama held "some concerns" over the Republican proposal. "The United States should not and the American people cannot pay a ransom in exchange for congress doing its job remains as true today as it has been throughout this period," he said.
Speaking to reporters after the close of financial markets on Friday, Carney applauded what he called a "new willingness" among Republicans in Congress to end the shutdown but said the president would not agree to a temporary extension.
"It is our view that we cannot have a situation where the debt ceiling is extended as part of a budget negotiation process for only six weeks, which would put us right back in the same position that we’re in now," Carney said.
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Obama held talks with Republicans in the Senate and House on Thursday, attempting to find a way for the United States to avoid a default, which would happen if the debt ceiling was not raised before Oct. 17.
Obama has insisted that any negotiations on the budget must occur after the Republicans reopen the federal government and raise the federal borrowing limit.
“The president’s goal remains to ensure we pay the bills we’ve incurred, reopen the government and get back to the business of growing the economy,” the White House said in a news release.
Republicans want a series of talks on cuts to Medicare, the tax code and other budget items in return for raising the debt ceiling.
They also agreed to reopen the government only if there could be negotiations on current spending levels in the 2014 budget.
The White House has been careful not to characterize the meetings as negotiations — something Obama has refused to do over the debt limit.
The United States risks defaulting on its debt if its $16.7-trillion borrowing limit is not raised by next week.
The majority of Americans believe that the Republicans are responsible for the partial government shutdown.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found 53 percent of Americans blamed the Republicans, whereas 31 percent blamed Democrats.
Indeed, favorable views of the Republicans and tea party members have hit historic lows.
Despite the talks, it was unclear whether Boehner could even deliver on the deal he outlined.
There was some good news for federal employees and the general public later Friday afternoon.
State officials in New York and Arizona struck a deal with federal counterparts to open the Statue of Liberty and Grand Canyon, respectively.
The Interior Department agreed to allow Arizona to use state funds to open the national park on Saturday, the Associated Press reported. The department wanted $112,000 daily, but agreed to a lesser amount, AP said.
New York is willing to pay more than $61,000 per day to keep the Statue of Liberty open, the news service said.
Tea party Republicans have insisted on using the shutdown and debt limit to stop Obama's signature health care law and curb federal spending.
There's likely still a long way to go.
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