President Barack Obama speaks about the the budget and the partial government shutdown, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, in the Brady Press Room of the White House in Washington. The president said he told House Speaker John Boehner he's willing to negotiate with Republicans on their priorities, but not under the threat of "economic chaos." Charles Dharapak/Associated Press
U.S. President Barack Obama says he told House Speaker John Boehner he's willing to negotiate with Republicans on their priorities, but not under the threat of "economic chaos."
Obama spoke to reporters at the White House Tuesday in the midst of the eighth day of a partial government shutdown and a few hours after calling Boehner.
Obama says he urged Boehner to hold a vote immediately to reopen the government.
The White House says Obama also urged Boehner to hold a vote that would allow the government to borrow more money.
Senate Democrats are planning a vote this week to provide new borrowing, without new spending cuts Republicans want.
The White House says Obama urged Boehner to allow a timely vote on the measure — "with no ideological strings attached."
Boehner's office says Obama reiterated in the Tuesday morning call that he won't negotiate on the government shutdown or raising the debt limit. The White House says Obama is willing to negotiate, on topics including his health care law, after the threats of government shutdown and default have been removed
With the shutdown in its eighth day, Obama appeared confident his minority party in the House of Representatives would win a budget vote.
No lines in sand
Boehner said today he is willing to negotiate budget issues with Obama without any conditions.
The Ohio Republican told reporters Tuesday, "I'm not drawing any lines in the sand."
The Democrats aren't willing to negotiate such key elements of their platform, however.
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Republicans have said previously they want changes to Obama's signature health care law in exchange for reopening the government. They have also said they want spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit.
Today Boehner said: "All we're asking for is to sit down and have this conversation."
Still, the Democrats have yielded nothing in the dispute, and their confidence appears to be growing that they and the president could win a congressional vote despite the Republicans' plurality in the 435-seat House.
"My very strong suspicion is that there are enough votes there [to win]," the president said Monday, expecting that some Republicans would cross over to get the government back to work.
Stocks fell again on Wall Street in response to the budget gridlock.
The Standard & Poors 500 index fell 12 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 1,663 as of noon Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 83 points, or 0.6 per cent, at 14,853, and the Nasdaq composite fell 57 points, or 1.5 per cent, to 3,712.
Bigger crisis looms
Obama previously challenged Boehner to call a vote on the budget, which is stuck because Republicans want to attach provisions that would cut health-care funding.
After Boehner's Tuesday press conference, Democratic Party leaders in the House indicated skepticism about Boehner's willingness and repeated the president's confidence they could win a clean budget vote with no partisan add-ons.
An even bigger financial crisis looms next week when the government reaches the limit of its authority to borrow money.
The White House has said repeatedly the president won't negotiate with Republicans until the government is fully reopened and the debt limit has been raised. But it hasn't said the debt limit measure has to be completely "clean" of add-ons.
White House aide Jason Furman told reporters the White House could accept some add-ons if Boehner "needs to have some talking point for his caucus that's consistent with us not negotiating … that's not adding a bunch of extraneous conditions."
Sticking with strategy
Another White House official, Gene Sperling, said the administration could be open to an interim, short-term debt limit extension to prevent a catastrophic default.
Republicans were sticking with a strategy of trying to pin the blame for the shutdown on Obama for being unwilling to negotiate. The House also passed legislation Monday to reopen the Food and Drug Administration, the latest in a series of piecemeal funding bills to advance through the GOP-controlled chamber.
It has been commonly assumed that Republicans would suffer politically from the shutdown, and the early polling data seems to bear that out.
A survey released Monday by the Washington Post and ABC News said disapproval of Republican handling of the budget showdown was measured at 70 per cent, a rise from 63 per cent a week earlier. Disapproval of Obama's role was statistically unchanged at 51 per cent.
In the Senate, meanwhile, Democrats plan to move quickly toward a vote to allow the government to borrow more money, challenging Republicans to a filibuster showdown as the time remaining to stop a first-ever default on U.S. obligations ticks by.
A spokesman said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could unveil the measure as early as Tuesday, setting the table for a test vote later in the week.
The measure is expected to provide enough borrowing room to last beyond next year's election, which means it likely will permit $1 trillion or more in new borrowing above the current $16.7 trillion debt ceiling that the administration says will be hit on Oct. 17. It's not expected to include new spending cuts sought by Republicans.