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Boehner, Reid Staffers Spar Over Debt Limit and Shutdown

If the rhetoric coming from House and Senate staffers is any indication, the government shutdown isn’t ending soon — and Republicans and Democrats are miles apart on raising the debt limit.

On Monday a top aide for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent around a statement questioning Speaker John A. Boehner’s candor, particularly his claim over the weekend that a “clean” continuing resolution could not pass the House.

“Speaker Boehner has a credibility problem,” said Adam Jentleson, the Nevada Democrat’s communications director. “From refusing to let the House vote on a bill that was his idea in the first place, to decrying health-care subsidies for members of Congress and staff that he worked for months to preserve, to stating that the House doesn’t have the votes to pass a clean CR at current spending levels, there is now a consistent pattern of Speaker Boehner saying things that fly in the face of the facts or stand at odds with his past actions.”

Jentleson continued: “Americans across the country are suffering because Speaker Boehner refuses to come to grips with reality. Today, Speaker Boehner should stop the games and let the House vote on the Senate’s clean CR so that the entire federal government can re-open within twenty-four hours.”

But that did not sit well with the Ohio Republican’s spokesman, Michael Steel.

“Passing a spending bill at the level required by law* isn’t a ‘concession,'” Steel said in an email. “So it’s time for Senate Democrats to stow their faux outrage and deal with the problems at hand.”

Moreover, Steel argued that the Senate may have its own problems complying with President Barack Obama’s demand that Congress pass a debt limit increase without any extraneous riders.

“The federal government is shut down because Democrats refuse to negotiate, and the debt limit is right around the corner.” Steel said. “A ‘clean’ debt limit increase can’t pass the Senate, let alone the House. It’s time for some Washington Democrat to step up, act like an adult, and start talking about how we reopen the government, provide fairness for the American people under Obamacare, and deal with the drivers of our debt and deficits.”

The Republican wish list to raise the debt limit is a nonstarter for Democrats, who have echoed Obama by saying they won’t negotiate on the debt limit. But Republicans continue to insist that Democrats will need to make some concessions if they want to government to reopen and the debt limit raised.

Almost a week into the shutdown and 10 days from the debt limit deadline, Republicans and Democrats appear far from solutions.

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