6:46 p.m. EDT, October 10, 2013
WASHINGTON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans found no specific way forward to break their impasse over a government shutdown and extending the U.S. debt ceiling at a meeting on Thursday, the White House said.
The session of about an hour and a half between Obama and Republican leaders of the House of Representatives was described as a good meeting where Obama heard House Speaker John Boehner explain Republican proposals for a short-term extension of the U.S. debt ceiling.
"After a discussion about potential paths forward, no specific determination was made," said a White House statement. "The president looks forward to making continued progress with members on both sides of the aisle."
Republicans in the House of Representatives offered a plan on Thursday that would postpone a possible U.S. default, signaling new willingness to end a standoff that has shuttered large parts of the government and thrown America's future creditworthiness into question.
Ahead of an afternoon meeting with President Barack Obama, House Republican leaders floated a measure to extend the government's borrowing authority for several weeks that appeared to be free of the restrictions on healthcare and spending that prompted the crisis.
Their plan would not reopen the government, as Obama has insisted, but Republican leaders said they would seek a way to do so at the meeting.
For the first time since the government shutdown began 10 days ago, senior lawmakers from both parties predicted they would be able to resolve their differences in a way that would allow both sides to claim victory.
Outside conservative groups like Heritage Action and the Club for Growth, who have pressed Republicans to resist compromise, said they would not punish those who voted for the new plan.
"It's all going to work out," said Republican RepresentativeJohn Mica of Florida.
Investors seemed to be heartened by the developments. U.S. stocks indexes closed up 2 percent on Thursday. The dollar hit a 2-week high against major currencies and benchmark crude oil had its biggest gain in 6 weeks.
The proposal is a significant shift for Republicans, who had hoped to use the disruption to undermine Obama's signature healthcare law and win further spending cuts.
Those goals remain, but the Republican offer would at least push off the threat of default from October 17 until possibly the middle or end of November.
One potential complication: the plan would prevent the Treasury Department from shifting funds around to postpone the day of reckoning further.
The White House cautiously welcomed the offer, but reiterated that Congress must first reopen the government before budget talks can begin.
"The president is happy that cooler heads at least seem to be prevailing in the House," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters. Carney also cautioned that the White House has yet to see details of the Republican proposal.
Many rank-and-file Republicans also appeared to be skeptical of Boehner's plan. Boehner's grip over his troops has been tenuous this year and many of the chamber's most conservative lawmakers have defied him repeatedly on other crucial votes.
Boehner has taken pains to show his party's most rebellious members that he listens to their concerns. He took a different approach on Thursday, said those in the room.
"He put his best Coach Boehner voice and demeanor on and said, 'Guys, this is what we are going to do. The play has been called. I'm happy to answer questions,'" said Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma.
Other Republicans left the meeting grim-faced and refused to speak with reporters.
The Obama administration says it will be unable to pay all of its bills if Congress does not raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling by October 17. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said he would be unable