ABC News' Mary Bruce ( @marykbruce ) reports:
President Obama is stepping into stalled negotiations over the nation’s debt today, hosting separate White House meetings with the top two leaders of the Senate. According to the White House, the Oval Office meetings with Majority Leader Harry Reid this morning and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell this afternoon are “to discuss the status of the negotiations to find common ground on a balanced approach to deficit reduction.” Negotiations over the nation’s $14.3 trillion deficit broke down last week after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor walked out of the negotiations , led by Biden, after they reached an “impasse” over the Republicans’ opposition to raising taxes. "It is my hope that the president requested this meeting in order to finally explain what it is that he's prepared to do to solve our nation's fiscal crisis," McConnell said in a statement after the White House announced today’s meetings. "The president needs to decide between his goal of massive tax hikes, and a bipartisan plan to address our deficit. But he can’t have both." The White House insisted last week that the negotiations were always going to reach this point. “It is not as though this negotiating group could simply declare into law what they agreed on. So the process was always going to have to proceed out of the negotiating room and move forward with the engagement of the Speaker, Senate Leaders, House Minority Leader, the President, et cetera,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Thursday .
Vice President Biden will also attend today’s meetings. Also today, Obama will take a break in between negotiations to welcome the Major League Soccer champs, the Colorado Rapids, to the White House to honor their MLS cup victory and their 2010 season.