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House GOP Talks With Obama Break Down as Both Look to Senate

Updated 11:09 a.m. | House Republican talks with President Barack Obama have broken down, with GOP leaders telling their conference Saturday that the White House rejected their offer for a short-term debt limit increase tied to negotiations over reopening the government.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said the sentiment from lawmakers at a morning GOP conference meeting was that the president is not serious about negotiating with House Republicans. He said the White House seems more interested in talking with GOP senators.

“The president has got to be open to working with us,” he said. “Democrats have got to understand we have a seat the table and we have a right to be involved in negotiations.”
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said House GOP lawmakers are looking to Senate Republicans to hold the line for they party. “It’s now up to the Senate Republicans to hold firm,” the Idaho Republican said.
House Republicans had been looking for the president to sign a debt limit increase while the government remained shuttered and negotiations continued on a spending deal. Several GOP Senators, however, have largely rejected that approach, saying Congress needs to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling before the government runs out of borrowing authority on Oct. 17.

House Republicans had been looking to find a deal that would reopen the government as soon as Tuesday as well, but those discussion don’t seem to have gotten anywhere either.

Even as House lawmakers seemed to be throwing the ball into the Senate’s court, there was deep suspicion of the Senate Republicans’ willingness to cut an acceptable deal with the White House and Senate Democrats.

Indeed, the consensus coming out of conference was that House Republicans would stand against anything they considered a bad deal coming out of the Senate.

Many suggested that they were not inclined to simply roll over and take a deal that doesn’t meet the demands of the Republican conference.

“We are resolved, let’s just leave it at that,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash.

House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said they are stuck waiting to see if Obama cuts a deal with the other chamber.

“At the moment we’re looking across the rotunda to see what they do,” he said.

“I don’t like it,” he said of deferring to the Senate. “I keep hearing these reports about the so-called Obama-Collins bill, and I think the White House clearly is behind it.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has proposed a six-month CR at sequester levels tied to a repeal of the medical device tax.

A six-month deal is too long for Rogers’ liking, removing the urgency for appropriators to finish their work and giving too much flexibility to the administration on how to spend the money.

“Last I checked that kind of thing was for the Congress,” he said.

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