The Caribou Coffee cups were stacked neatly on the U.S. Capitol steps. Two cardboard coffee pots were ready to be poured. More than a dozen reporters watched them closely. They were waiting.
A few minutes after 11 a.m. ET Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the mastermind behind this bipartisan coffee summit, strode to the steps. He helped himself to a cup. Paul's office insisted that this wasn't a photo-op, but for the moment, the press were the only ones who were there. Rep. Tom Massie (R-KY), Paul's state brethren, finally showed up. A reporter inquired if Paul was expecting more people to come.
"I hope so," Paul said. "I hope this isn't going to the bipartisan summit, two Republicans from Kentucky!"
After a few minutes, some more representatives and senators -- all of them Republicans, except Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) -- did join Paul on the front steps. They chatted amiably, sometimes about the shutdown, sometimes about NASCAR. No path to reopening the federal government emerged. But the photographers snapped their shutters, anyway.
That's where we're at, three days into the shutdown.
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