There was no agreement reached on Thursday night by top House Republicans and President Barack Obama to raise the nation's debt ceiling or to reopen the government — but there was progress: They're talking.
For the first time in the partisan stalemate that has crippled Washington, the two sides emerged from the White House confab saying they might be able to work something out.
The responses from both sides reflected a marked shift in tone between Republicans and Democrats, the first since the federal government shut down on Oct. 1.
Each side emerged from the meeting to say they would continue negotiations.
"It was clarifying to both sides as to where we are," Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said when he returned to the Capitol Building on Thursday. "The takeaway from the meeting was, our teams are going to be talking further tonight. We'll have more discussion. ... The president said he would go and consult with the administration folks, and hopefully we can see a way forward after that."
Cantor added that the talks were "very useful" but would not elaborate. Republican House Speaker John Boehner was silent when he entered the Capitol before disappearing into his office, but a senior leadership aide said it was " productive."
A White House statement released after the meeting did not indicate that the GOP proposal had been rejected or accepted, but it said the president "looks forward to making continued progress" with Republicans.
"The President had a good meeting with members of the House Republican Leadership," the White House noted.
"After a discussion about potential paths forward, no specific determination was made," the statement said.
House Republicans are proposing a plan to raise the federal borrowing limit for six weeks, which would be passed before Oct. 17, the date the Treasury Department says is the final day the government can make payments on all its debts. The proposal, however, would not reopen the federal government, which Democrats want as part of the deal. The government has been shut down since Oct. 1.
The offer of a short-term debt ceiling increase would provide more time to continue the debate over the government shutdown, which Boehner reiterated in a floor speech on Wednesday would include a demand to delay parts of the 2010 federal health care law.
Without a solution to the ongoing government shutdown, possibilities for serious negotiations are limited. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Thursday that until House Republicans agreed to reopen the government without any strings attached, broad negotiations over the budget were "not going to happen."
Senate Republicans are planning to hold a similar meeting with Obama on Friday morning.