President Barack Obama has yet to respond to a request from Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for a Wednesday meeting with Senate Democrats, days after rejecting an invitation from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to meet with his Conference.
Reid said last week he was "confident" that the meeting between his Democratic Conference and Obama would happen Wednesday either on the Hill or at the White House, but so far, the administration has not confirmed there will even be a meeting, according to multiple sources.
The unusual silence on the White House meeting comes as the Senate returns to business Tuesday afternoon in large part because the president challenged Congress to stay in town rather than leave for a scheduled July Fourth recess. Obama issued that challenge during a press conference last week because, he said, Congress should be focused on the looming deadline to extend the nation's borrowing capacity and the unresolved budget debate still dividing Washington.
When Obama last week refused McConnell's last-minute invitation for a lunch with Senate Republicans, many on both sides of the aisle were put off by White House press secretary Jay Carney's statement that a meeting with the GOP would not have been "a conversation worth having."
A top Senate Democratic aide said there could be an announcement about a potential meeting with the president and vice president later Tuesday, but the White House's delay so far has left many on the Hill wondering about the wait and the prospect of Obama dragging his feet on two meetings in as many weeks.
Also Tuesday, McConnell reissued his invitation for Obama to meet with Senate Republicans to talk about the debt limit.
"My goal, as I said on Thursday, was to get together and talk about what's actually possible. The Obama administration said it wasn't 'a conversation worth having.' Republicans in Congress believe that finding a way to reduce the deficit and put Medicare on more secure footing is a conversation worth having. So today, I'd like to re-extend the offer," McConnell said, according to prepared remarks. "I think the best way to solve this impasse is for the president to hear what needs to be done and how we can do it — hear what can actually pass here in Congress."
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.