Obama Meets With Lawmakers, but No Progress on Budget Deal
On Wednesday, President Obama met with congressional leaders from both parties to discuss ways to end the partial federal government shutdown, but the get-together did not result in any progress toward an agreement on the Affordable Care Act and government spending, the Wall Street Journal reports (Hook et al., Wall Street Journal, 10/2).
The meeting marked the first time that Obama linked the debate over a continuing resolution measure and the debt limit, which the federal government will reach on Oct. 17 (Calmes/Weisman, "Fiscal Crisis," New York Times, 10/2). Republicans have sought to tie those two issues to demands over the ACA, while Democrats and the White House have refused to make changes to the law as a condition of funding the government (Wall Street Journal, 10/2).
During the meeting, Obama told Republican leaders that he would negotiate with them on a long-term budget deal that would address the growing costs of Medicare and Medicaid only after they agree to pass a short-term spending bill to end the shutdown -- without language that defunds the ACA -- and raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17 (Calmes/Weisman, New York Times, 10/2).
Congressional leaders emerged from the meeting saying there had been candid discussion but no headway. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) described the conversation as "nice" and "polite," but he said "the president reiterated one more time tonight that he will not negotiate" (Catalini/House, National Journal, 10/2).
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Boehner "cannot take yes for an answer," noting that the House Speaker was unwilling to pass a short-term continuing resolution and increase the debt ceiling to begin negotiations for a broader agreement (Becker et al., The Hill, 10/2).
Despite the lack of progress, the White House issued a statement saying Obama remains hopeful that "common sense will prevail" in the budget impasse (Holland, Reuters, 10/2).
Some GOP Members Reconsider ACA Demands
Earlier on Wednesday, Boehner met with moderate Republicans who support passing a clean CR with no ACA demands or other policy riders, CQ Roll Call's "218" reports.
According to "218," Boehner would need at least 116 Republicans to join Democrats in a vote to pass a clean CR. Although there is a growing group of Republicans looking for a solution to the federal shutdown, there have not been 116 House GOP members who publicly have supported passing a short-term spending bill without policy riders, according to "218." Further, if Boehner brought such a measure to floor he would risk a "conservative mutiny" that could cost him his leadership position (Fuller, "218," CQ Roll Call, 10/2).
As a result, Boehner asked the lawmakers to "have patience," according to Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who did not attend the meetings but is among those urging Boehner to shift strategies (Memoli/Mascaro, "Politics Now," Los Angeles Times, 10/2). King -- who held his own meeting with about 10 moderate GOPers who support a CR without any riders -- said the moderates are weighing their next steps ("218," CQ Roll Call, 10/2).
According to the Los Angeles Times' "Politics Now," GOP leaders have acknowledged that it is unlikely that the Senate or White House will capitulate on their demands to include defunding language in a CR, and they now are looking at other trade-offs in exchange for raising the debt limit and passing a CR. "Politics Now" reports that GOP leaders might "revisit the components of past budget battles," including demanding cuts to entitlement programs, such as Medicare ("Politics Now," Los Angeles Times, 10/2).
House Passes Three Small Funding Measures
Meanwhile, Boehner and House leaders are pressing forward with a plan to spare some government agencies from the shutdown by passing three small appropriations bills, including one (H.J. Res. 73) that would restore funding for NIH, The Hill's "Floor Action Blog," reports (Kasperowicz, "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 10/2).
The votes come one day after the House failed to pass three other small spending measures, including one that would fund the Department of Veterans Affairs (Dinan, Washington Times, 10/2). According to "218," House Republicans hope to force Senate Democrats to go on the record against popular government programs that have received increased media attention during the shutdown (Dumain, "218," CQ Roll Call, 10/2).
The House on Thursday is expected to hold more votes on specific appropriations bills, including one to fund VA (New York Times, 10/2).
White House Threatens Veto
However, the White House on Wednesday released a statement of administration policy that denounced the small appropriations bills, saying that it is "not a serious or responsible way to run the U.S. government," The Hill's "On The Money" reports. The statement said Obama would veto all of the House's targeted spending bills (Schroeder, "On The Money," The Hill, 10/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.