WASHINGTON — Washington is no closer to ending the government shutdown, which entered its second week Monday, as Democrats remain unmoved by refocused GOP efforts to reach a broader budget deal.
"I believe he's mistaken," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday regarding House Speaker John Boehner's insistence that there are not enough votes in the House to move a stopgap spending measure to reopen the government with no strings attached. "One sure-fire way to find out if the bill will pass is to have a vote on it."
Boehner, R-Ohio, seeks to end the shutdown and raise the $16.7 trillion federal debt ceiling as part of one budget negotiation in which he hopes to extract some concessions from Democrats on deficit reductions and the Affordable Care Act. The Treasury Department has said the deadline for raising the debt ceiling is Oct. 17.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a leading voice in the shutdown debate for his advocacy of ending President Obama's health care law, told CNN's State of the Union Sunday that a debt ceiling package should include structural changes to reduce spending, no new taxes, and provisions to "mitigate the harms" of the health care law. "The debt ceiling historically has been among the best leverage the Congress has to rein in the executive," Cruz said.
Boehner told ABC's This Week that despite Democrats' insistence to the contrary, "there are not the votes in the House" to pass a "clean" stopgap bill.
wwii memorial shutdown
A woman gives the thumbs-down while posing for photos in front of a barricade preventing access to the World World II Memorial as the partial government shutdown enters day six on Oct. 6, 2013, in Washington, D.C.(Photo: Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images)
Democrats will talk about a longer-term budget agreement only after the government is reopened and the debt ceiling is increased to assuage financial markets that default is not an option.
"So it's my way or the highway, that's what (President Obama) is saying. Complete surrender, and then we'll talk to you," Boehner said.
National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling reiterated Monday at a breakfast hosted by Politico that the president is not going to negotiate on the debt ceiling because he believes it will set a precedent that threatening default can be used as leverage in budget talks.
Obama visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday to reiterate his concerns about the shutdown. Obama told FEMA workers their jobs have been "made more difficult" by the shutdown, but they have performed their duties under "less than optimal circumstances." He again called on the Republican-run House to pass a spending plan and raise the debt ceiling with no conditions.
STORY: Obama pushes GOP on shutdown
Democrats expect Boehner will loosen his position as the nation lurches closer to the Oct. 17 deadline to raise the debt ceiling. "The debt ceiling is such a calamitous possibility that you could go into a recession or even a depression … that he'll have no choice," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told CNN's New Day about Boehner.
The House and Senate return Monday. The House voted unanimously Saturday on a bill that would ensure that federal workers will receive back pay when the government reopens, sending a reassuring message to furloughed workers.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered nearly 350,000 civilian employees back to work Monday. They will be paid under a broad interpretation of a recent law signed by the president that ensures U.S. troops and supporting staff are compensated during the shutdown.
Defense Department employees make up about half of the roughly 800,000 federal workers affected by the shutdown.
Contributing: David Jackson