At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the president would "likely sign" a short-term extension in the debt ceiling, and did not rule out his doing so even if it left the shutdown intact.
Reid wasn't nearly as amenable. "Not going to happen," he said brusquely.
By the time House Republicans had returned from the White House hours later, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said part of their hope was to "quickly settle" on legislation to permit the government to reopen.
Rogers, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, told reporters it was clear Obama would "like to have the shutdown stopped ... and we're trying to find out what he would insist upon in the (legislation) and what we would insist upon."
Heartened by any hint of progress, Wall Street chose to accentuate the positive. After days of decline, the Dow Jones industrial average soared 323 points on hopes that the divided government was taking steps to avoid a default. Reid's dismissive comments at the White House came at the end of the trading day.
After more than a week of lost tourism, some governors prevailed on the Obama administration to let states use their own money to pay for national parks to reopen, Grand Canyon and Zion among them. There was a catch — the Interior Department made it clear it didn't plan to reimburse the states after the shutdown ends.
Senate Republicans forged ahead on an alternative of their own that would ease both the debt-limit and shutdown crises at once. Officials said that it would require Obama to agree to some relatively modest changes to the health care law that stands as his signature domestic achievement.
Some tea party-aligned lawmakers claimed partial credit for the GOP retreat, casting it as a way of finessing one problem so they could quickly resume their own campaign to deny operating funds for the national health care overhaul known as "Obamacare."