CAPITOL HILL — With the partial U.S. government shutdown in its second week, President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, have refused to move from their positions on reopening the government and passing legislation to raise the debt ceiling. Currently, there is no solution in sight as the two unresolved budget disputes merge into one big crisis.
Obama and Boehner exchanged sharp words Tuesday in the budget debate. The president told White House reporters he is happy to negotiate with Speaker Boehner and other Republicans on a range of issues - after the House passes a bill to fully fund the government and legislation to raise the debt limit without conditions.
Obama accused House Republicans of using “extortion” as a tactic to press their demands on spending cuts as well as dismantling of his signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act.
“The greatest nation on Earth should not have to get permission from a few irresponsible members of Congress every couple of months just to keep our government open or to prevent an economic catastrophe,” said Obama.
A short time later, Boehner responded at his own news conference.
“What the president said today was, if there is unconditional surrender by Republicans, he will sit down and talk to us,” said the speaker of the lower chamber of the U.S. Congress.
Boehner said there will be negotiations to raise the debt limit, and called on the president or Senate Democratic leaders to start talking to House Republicans right away.
"We can't raise the debt ceiling without doing something about what is driving us to borrow more money and to live beyond our means," said Boehner.
Other Democrats warned of the consequences of even getting close to the point when the United States would not be able to pay its bills. Congressman Joseph Crowley called on business leaders to pressure House Republicans to hold votes on straightforward “clean” bills to fund the government and extend borrowing authority.
"Wall Street has a role to play here. I think the business community has a role to play; I think the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, people who the Republican caucus have respect for. I know they are weighing in, but they need to weigh in even more," said Crowley.
While Speaker Boehner and President Obama argued back and forth, the Democratic-controlled Senate prepared to consider a measure to raise the debt ceiling with no conditions attached. Many economists say the government's borrowing limit must be raised by October 17 or the United States risks defaulting on its obligations, causing severe economic problems.