An early return from August recess to Washington, D.C., was not enough for Sen. Bob Corker and a group of GOP senators Thursday, as they emerged from a White House meeting deadlocked with Barack Obama's administration over impending fiscal deadlines.
Corker left Chattanooga for the nation's capital Wednesday after meeting with a group of local business leaders over breakfast at the Walden Club. During the meeting, the senator and former Chattanooga mayor expressed little optimism for reaching a significant deal with the White House on upcoming negotiations over how to pass a government funding bill and approve a debt ceiling increase later this fall—a sense that was later confirmed.
According to a Politico report, Corker emerged from the meeting saying there was little "common ground" left to pursue a deal. The senator added that no other gatherings had been scheduled.
"While it's very disappointing, it's very evident that there's not enough common ground to produce a result," Corker was quoted saying Thursday evening. "These meetings are, in essence, suspended. Maybe at some point there's an opportunity to come back to this. But we all know—based on where we are—there's just not enough commonality really to even continue."
Corker, along with seven other GOP senators, had participated in infrequent talks with top White House staffers about how to best avoid fiscal brinksmanship seen in recent debt ceiling and budget battles. In the recent debate over the so-called "fiscal cliff," the senator proposed for the deficit to be reduced through a combination of cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid, while additionally offering solutions such as limiting itemized tax deductions as a form of revenue generation.
The impasse between senators and the White House would now appear to shift the bulk of debate over possible compromise to the House of Representatives, where Corker has recently expressed doubt over seeing a meaningful proposal drafted.
"There's not a lot of unity over there," the senator told business leaders in Chattanooga Wednesday, referring to the House GOP.
Along with Corker, Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; John McCain, R-Ariz.; Dan Coats, R-Ind.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; and Ron Johnson, R-Wisc.; participated in the meeting. According to an Associated Press report, some senators participated via teleconference in the meeting, which was held in the White House's Situation Room.
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