Four days into a U.S. government shutdown and neither side is showing any sign of blinking. Following a White House meeting, the House Republican leadership held a press conference, underscoring to President Barack Obama and Democrats that they intend to stand their ground.
“This isn’t some damn game,” said an irate House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “The American people don’t want their government shut down and neither do I.”
The Speaker said all Republicans are demanding is a sit down to work out the differences so that the government can reopen.
“It’s as simple as that,” Boehner said. “But it all has to begin with a simple discussion.”
The president met with both Democratic and Republican congressional leaders on Wednesday evening. However, the meeting went absolutely nowhere, as the White House said there wasn't going to be any negotiations (at least not until the government reopens); hence, the face-to-face meeting brought the two sides no closer to a solution.
The government is shut down because Republicans are insisting on defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, before passing a 2014 continuing resolution to fund the government; the GOP may also list the demand as a bargaining tool as part of possible deal to increase the debt limit; that ceiling is approaching soon -- Oct. 17, according to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
Governing has given way to a war of words, with Obama calling the present situation a “Republican shutdown.”
A visibly annoyed Boehner assured, “Our goal here wasn’t to shut down the government. ... I don’t believe we should default on our debt. It is not good for our country.”
Even so, Republicans are taking most of the blame, so far. A new CBS News poll shows that 72 percent of American disapprove of the federal funding lapse that has left 800,000 workers on furlough. What’s more, Americans believe the Republicans are primarily at fault, 44 percent, compared to 33 percent for the Democrats, the poll shows.
Despite Washington’s dysfunction, one of the biggest achievements of the Obama administration kept moving forward. The Obamacare exchanges opened on Oct. 1 to huge traffic, which led to registration delays.
Still, Republicans have labeled the health care law as a “job killer” and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said a “dysfunctional website is the least of that law’s problem.”
He criticized the president for refusing to sit with Republicans and negotiate. “[It’s] sadly a hallmark of his presidency,” Cantor said.
Piecemeal Is Still The Game Plan
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats and the White House have demanded that the GOP open all of government, saying they will not play the Republicans’ game of nit-picking favorite parts of the government to open. So far, Democrats have defeated piecemeal bills that will open the national parks and other non-controversial agencies.
Nevertheless, House Republicans said they will proceed with piecemeal bills in the days ahead to attempt to partially open the government.
As a tropical storm threatens the Gulf Coast, House leadership plans to vote soon on a bill to open the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service. After that, the focus will shift to funding nutrition programs for women and children in Head Start next week, Cantor said.
A vote will be held Saturday to ensure pay for all federal employees during the furlough.