Boehner to Obama: Sit Down and Negotiate

12:35 PM, Oct 4, 2013   |    comments
John Boehner (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Gregory Korte and Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON - President Obama disavowed the idea that the White House is "winning" the shutdown battle with House Republicans.

"There's no winning," Obama said on a lunchtime visit to a Pennsylvania Avenue sandwich shop with Vice President Joe Biden. "No one is winning."

The debate over who who was winning the shutdown defined the fourth day of the shutdown, as House Speaker John Boehner angrily denounced comments from an anonymous senior White House official that suggested the president sees political advantage to a shutdown. "We are winning. ... it doesn't really matter to us" how long the shutdown lasts, the official told the Wall Street Journal.

"This isn't some damn game," Boehner said after a GOP conference meeting, slamming down a copy of the newspaper. "The American people don't want their government shut down and neither do I. All we're asking for is to sit down and have a discussion ... to reopen the government and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a post on Twitter, "We utterly disavow idea WH doesn't care when it ends. House should act now, no strings."

At the sandwich shop, Obama said the shutdown "could be over today."

 

"I'm happy to have negotiations but we can't do it with a gun held to the head of the American people," he said. President Obama and congressional Democrats say they will negotiate on a broad, long-term budget deal after Republicans agree to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.

 

The unnamed White House official quoted said essentially the same thing that Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was overheard telling his Kentucky colleague, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on a live microphone Thursday: "We're going to win this, I think."

The budget impasse is now entwined with the need to raise the nation's borrowing authority by Oct. 17 or risk default on debt.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a CBS News interview that disagreements among Republicans will need to be resolved so all parties can come to the table. A group of conservatives have been pushing to tie funding of the government to provisions that would impact Obama's health care law, and Boehner said Friday the House GOP is still insisting on "fairness" under the Affordable Care Act.

"It will take some coming together on the Republican side," Pelosi said on CBS' This Morning. "It's very hard to negotiate with the Republicans when they can't negotiate with themselves."

The House was preparing to vote Friday on bills that would provide short-term funding for disaster relief and a program that provides food aid to women and children. Democrats have consistently rejected a piecemeal approach, preferring instead to find agreement on a bill that would reopen the entire federal government.

The Office of Management and Budget said Obama would veto the short-term measures. "Consideration of appropriations bills in this fashion is not a serious or responsible way to run the United States government," the OMB policy statement said. "Instead of opening up a few government functions, the House of Representatives should reopen all of the government."

Another House measure to ensure that thousands of federal employees who have been furloughed this week receive their pay retroactively could be voted on Saturday, when House leadership has scheduled a series of votes on smaller funding bills.

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