Shutdown Resolution Unlikely Over Weekend

Posted October 5, 2013 at 1:56pm

As the government shutdown stretched into the weekend, House Republican leaders offered no hint of giving in to Democratic demands to pass a funding measure with no legislative strings attached.

In what felt more like a pro forma gathering than a Saturday emergency session, the House unanimously passed, 407-0, a bill that would provide back-pay to furloughed federal workers. After the vote, House Republican leaders gathered to applaud themselves for moving legislation throughout the week that would fund popular pieces of the government. And they continued to press Democrats to negotiate.

“What we are working with here, again, is an administration and president that seems to be unwilling to sit down and talk with us,” said Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Cantor tried to highlight what he framed as a hypocrisy: Democrats will agree to easing the pain for furloughed federal workers, he said, but they won’t agree to the piecemeal strategy of funding. They won’t agree, Cantor said, to easing the pain of a shutdown on veterans.

“Do the Democrats not feel it’s important to make sure that pain is eased on them? What about the sick children that need access to clinical trials?” Cantor asked.

Republicans seem content, for now, with highlighting the aspects of government which they are funding — or, at least, would fund if the president and the Senate would consent.

House Republicans show little sign of shaking from their bill-by-bill approach, betting that voters will blame Democrats for the shutdown as long as Republicans can point to obstructionism on the opposing side.

Noticeably absent from the news conference was Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, who has largely ducked news conferences and questions during the shutdown.

Boehner told his GOP conference Friday that media reports he is working on a “grand bargain” for the debt limit and a continuing resolution were wrong.

But as the shutdown timeline starts to collide with the debt limit deadline — Oct. 17 — Republicans and Democrats both say the issues have become inseparable for the speaker.

And if, as expected, no CR solutions are found over the weekend, the likelihood that both issues will have to be addressed simultaneously continues to grow.