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Thursday
Jun302011

Dueling Invites: Senate Democrats Invite Obama to the Hill

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

Calling Senate Minority Leader McConnell’s invitation Thursday of the president to come to the Hill a “stunt,” the Democratic leadership announced 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-NY., 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.  It is not clear yet whether they will accept Reid’s invitation but he said he is “confident” that either the president and vice president will come to the Hill, or Senators will go to the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV., outlined what next week in the Senate will look like -- a series of meetings on the debt ceiling -- after he announced Thursday morning that he’s cancelling next week’s planned recess for the Senate.

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

On Tuesday, when the Senate comes back into session, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Conrad, D-ND., 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 are a stalemate over taxes.  Republicans have maintained that any deal must not include any added revenues. Democrats on Thursday called the Republicans position on revenues “stubborn” and “rigid,” and 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,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL.,  said.

For the Republicans' part, Sen. McConnell insisted President Obama "just doesn't get it," and sent his invitation to the president so he could hear from Senate Republicans in person as to why they won't approve a debt deal that includes tax increases in an already-struggling economy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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