President Barack Obama pauses while giving a press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
WASHINGTON - President Obama is stepping up his personal engagement with lawmakers over the government shutdown, setting up private meetings at the White House in an effort to make progress in deadlocked budget negotiations.
The president "believes Congress will do the right thing" and vote to end the partial government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling by the Oct. 17 deadline, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Obama met with House Democrats on Wednesday and is scheduled to meet separately with House Republicans and Senate Democrats on Thursday.
The president and congressional Democrats continue to advocate for a stopgap funding bill to reopen government and a debt ceiling increase with no preconditions attached.
Obama also took his message to local television viewers, speaking with anchors from stations in Washington, D.C., Richmond, Va., Philadelphia and Tampa - markets with large numbers of government employees and military personnel.
He told WTVR of Richmond: "The reason we're where we are right now is because Speaker Boehner, the House Republicans, thought that they could get leverage in budget negotiations or defund the Affordable Care Act - Obamacare - by taking us to the brink."
Congressional Republicans led by Speaker John Boehner continue to seek an agreement for broader budget negotiations in exchange for their votes for either.
The shutdown, which entered its ninth day Wednesday, began when Democrats rejected Republican efforts to defund or delay the president's health care law as part of the stopgap measure to keep the government running after the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.
Republicans have moved on from their original demand and are instead seeking an avenue for budget talks that could result in long-term agreements to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit. Democrats say they are open to such talks, but only after the shutdown ends and the default threat is off the table.
OUR VIEW: New shutdown day, new GOP demand
Boehner rejected Obama's invitation for all 232 House Republicans to meet on Thursday, instead selecting a team of 18 "negotiators" made up of elected leaders and committee chairmen.
"It is our hope that this will be a constructive meeting and that the president finally recognizes Americans expect their leaders to be able to sit down and resolve their differences," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said.
The House and Senate are scheduled to be in session Saturday, a sign that lawmakers do not anticipate a breakthrough before the weekend.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has scheduled a key procedural vote for Saturday to allow the Senate to debate a bill to suspend the debt ceiling through 2014. Reid will need all 54 Democrats as well as six Republicans, to vote with him to clear the hurdle.
The two parties remain far apart on how to end the shutdown and avert an unprecedented default. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will testify Thursday in the Senate on the economic ramifications if Congress fails to act.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., met privately with Boehner on Wednesday, during which Pelosi said she offered to provide the votes of all 200 House Democrats if the speaker would put the Senate-passed stopgap bill on the floor. "We were disappointed the Speaker did not take 'yes' for an answer," Pelosi said in a statement.
After the Democratic meeting at the White House, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Obama emphasized he is open to any discussion about the budget - once the government is reopened.
"He's simply saying we can talk while the government is open" Hoyer said. "The government doesn't need to be shut."
Pelosi added, "The debt ceiling needs to be lifted, and they are not getting any concession for that."
The White House issued a statement saying, "The President and the House Democrats reaffirmed their shared belief that we cannot let one faction of the Republicans in the House demand a ransom for Congress doing its job and paying the bills we have already incurred."
WTSP 10 News coverage of the Federal Government Shutdown:
-The shutdown- Federal Government shuts down after Congress fails to pass spending bill
-Questions & Answers-
5 things to know about government shutdown at start of week 2
27 more questions and answers about the shutdown
What a US government shutdown means for you
-The shutdown continues-
Day 8: Obama, Boehner both reject compromise on debt, shutdown
Day 2: No shutdown deal after White House powwow
Obama reinstates opposition to deals on debt ceiling
President Obama: Obama to Republicans: Open the government
Congress: 3rd bill defeated; House spending plan fails to gain support
-Shutdown reactions, consequences-
Furloughed MacDill AFB workers return to work on 7th day of shutdown
Stop being so stupid, voters tweet to Congress
Defense contractor employee: "This is my forced vacation"
Bay area veterans' trip to war memorial in jeopardy
Day 2: Stock market slips at U.S. shutdown continues
Social Media: Pickup lines to panda cam rage: Twitter reacts to #Govtshutdown
Shutdown may idle non-federal workers next week
Shutdown forces service academy sports into limbo
NASA shuts down in funding impasse
Parents and children suffer from federal government shutdown
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If you want to contact your Congressman:
Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R), Dist. 12:
2313 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R), Dist. 13:
2407 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5961
Fax: (202) 225-9764
Rep. Kathy Castor (D), Dist. 14:
205 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Rep. Dennis Ross (R), Dist. 15:
229 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-1252
Fax: (202) 226-0585
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R), Dist. 16:
2104 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5015
Fax: (202) 226-0828
Sen. Marco Rubio (R)
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510
Sen. Bill Nelson (D)
United States Senate
716 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510