In Congress, the man certain to be involved in any final agreement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, gave no indication of his plans.
While the impact of the shutdown varies widely, lawmakers seemed to be taking care of their own needs.
The members-only House gym remained in operation, and enough Senate staff was at work to operate the aging underground tram that ferries senators and others from the Russell Office Building to the Capitol a short distance away.
The shutdown sent ripples nationwide.
The aerospace industry reported that furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration have resulted in a virtual stop to certification of new aircraft, equipment and training simulators.
The Senate passed legislation instructing the Pentagon to permit military chaplains to conduct worship services. House approval was still needed.
And Keith Colburn, a crab fisherman, told lawmakers during the day that a lucrative, one-month crab harvest set to begin Oct. 15 in the Bering Sea is in jeopardy because the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is not assigning quotas to boats.
Obama met at the White House for more than an hour with Senate Republicans, the last in a series of four presidential sit-downs with the rank and file of each house and each party.
He has said repeatedly in recent weeks that he is willing to negotiate with Republicans on budget, health care or other issues, but only after the government is reopened and the threat of default eliminated.
The White House seemed to wobble on that point on Thursday, until Senate Majority Leader Reid emphatically reinforced that it was his view, too.
Republicans have just as insistently demanded that Obama negotiate with them in exchange for passage of legislation that both sides agree is essential.
That left the White House and congressional leaders looking for a way to negotiate their way out of an impasse without appearing to negotiate — with the health of the nation’s economy dependent on their political dexterity. The administration says the government will bump up against its borrowing limit next Thursday, raising the specter of an unprecedented default.