WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- Two days in, Congress is no closer to resolving the first government shutdown in 17 years.
Obama is calling the top four congressional leaders down to the White
House for a meeting Wednesday afternoon. A White House official said the
president will urge the House to pass a stopgap funding bill to reopen
the government, and ask Congress to raise the debt ceiling ahead of an
Oct. 17 deadline.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the
president is "attaching no partisan strings" to his request that
Congress reopen the government. "What the president is asking
Republicans in the House to do is quite literally the least they could
do. He's asking them to extend funding at the levels set in the previous
fiscal year to keep the government open."
Brendan Buck, a
spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Republicans are
seeking further negotiations. "It's unclear why we'd be having this
meeting if it's not meant to be a start to serious talks between the two
parties," Buck said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.,
sent a letter to Boehner Wednesday asking him to approve the Senate
stopgap funding measure in exchange for a commitment to appoint senators
to a committee to resolve longer-term budget issues. "This conference
would be an appropriate place to have those discussions," Reid wrote.
entire government is shut down right now because Washington Democrats
refuse to even talk about fairness for all Americans under ObamaCare,"
responded Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, "Offering to negotiate
only after Democrats get everything they want is not much of an offer."
Republicans are moving forward again Wednesday with a legislative
strategy to advance piecemeal funding bills to reopen popular parts of
the federal government including parks and national memorials and the
Department of Veterans Affairs until a broader budget agreement is
reached. Republicans continue to seek concessions on the Affordable Care
Act in exchange for passage of the funding bill.
"What I don't
understand is why the president and the Senate Democrats will not agree
to come talk to those of us that have deep concerns about the fairness
of what is Obamacare. And that to me, is just not understandable to
people in my district and across the country," Rep. Jason Chaffetz of
Utah, a conservative Republican, told CBS's This Morning.
Senate Democrats and Obama oppose the piecemeal approach and continue
to call on Republicans to approve the Senate-passed stopgap funding
bill through Nov. 15 that has no provisions affecting the health care
law. Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., challenged Boehner to
allow a vote on the bill, which appears to have the support to pass on
the votes of Democrats and moderate Republicans.
"What is (Boehner) so afraid of?" Durbin said on the Senate floor.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said she can deliver most
of the Democrats' 200 House votes, and at least a dozen House
Republicans have publicly said they would support a "clean" stopgap bill
without provisions affecting the ACA.
One of those Republicans,
Rep. MIchael Grimm, R-N.Y., said he is working with a coalition of
members and leadership to find a compromise. "I'm willing to do that and
there are many members that are going to make that push," he told CNN's
Republicans are looking for ways to pass the
stopgap bill and negotiate with Senate Democrats on a vote to raise the
debt ceiling, the nations borrowing limit.
"There is a strong
possibility, if (Democrats) were willing to at least sit down and listen
to us, that we could put a package together to solve all of these
problems at once so we can get the government funded, stop this shutdown
and also deal with the debt ceiling so that we don't have another
crisis a week or two away from now," Grimm said.
Obama and Reid have been equally insistent that they will not
negotiate on the debt ceiling because of the economic risks posed by a
default. However, the two budget deadlines overlap further with each day
the government remains shut down.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew
advised Congress late Tuesday that he was exhausting the last measures
before the debt ceiling is hit Oct. 17.
Senate GOP leaders said
they'd like to resolve the two issues separately, but that it may not be
possible. "Well, they are getting close to each other, aren't they? And
I'd still like to resolve the current issue before we move on to the
debt ceiling, but it's not exactly clear yet when that will be
resolved," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Obama met Wednesday with executives from the nation's largest financial institutions.
Services Forum Chairman Lloyd Blankfein said in a statement that they
urged a quick resolution to the debt ceiling increase. "While the
current government shutdown is unfortunate, the impacts of a debt
default would be magnitudes worse and should not even be considered a
viable option," Blankfein said, "The economic damage associated with
default or near-default would be severe and have serious consequences
for the recovery of the U.S. and global economy."
WTSP 10 News coverage of the Federal Government Shutdown:
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Congress: Senate rejects House plan for budget talks amid shutdown
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If you want to contact your Congressman:
Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R), Dist. 12:
2313 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R), Dist. 13:
2407 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5961
Fax: (202) 225-9764
Rep. Kathy Castor (D), Dist. 14:
205 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Rep. Dennis Ross (R), Dist. 15:
229 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-1252
Fax: (202) 226-0585
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R), Dist. 16:
2104 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5015
Fax: (202) 226-0828
Sen. Marco Rubio (R)
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510
Sen. Bill Nelson (D)
United States Senate
716 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510