CAPITOL HIILL — U.S. President President Barack Obama said on Monday he is not resigned to a U.S. government shutdown taking place with a midnight deadline looming and said he would talk to congressional leaders later.
During an Oval Office appearance with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama said he supported a Senate bill that would allow for a short-term funding of the government without cutting funding from his signature healthcare law, which Republicans are seeking to gut.
Obama said all involved must sit down in good faith without a threat of a debt default because the U.S. dollar is the reserve currency of the world and "we don't mess with that.''
The president made the remarks Monday afternoon just ahead of a vote by the Senate on the current spending bill, likely to be rejected. The bill, passed early Sunday by the House of Representatives, ties funding the government to delaying Obama's signature health care law.
But If no deal is struck by day's end, large parts of the federal government will be shut down and 800,000 federal workers will be furloughed.
Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid has made clear that the Senate will not pass any measure to extend federal funding that is linked to measures pushed by Republicans to derail the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. It is expected the Senate will send a "clean" spending bill back to the House later Monday.
Speaking on the House floor Monday morning, House Speaker John Boehner called for the Senate to do what the House wants.
"It is time for the Senate to listen to the American people, just like the House is listening to the American people and to pass a one-year delay of Obamacare and a permanent repeal of the medical device tax," said Boehner.
The standoff between the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House has become familiar to political observers in Washington. This time, the health care law is at the core.
Democrats point out the measure will allow millions of Americans to afford health insurance, while Republicans say the regulations will hurt the economy and interfere in Americans' private lives.
Lawmakers weigh in
Already, both sides are trying to make sure the other gets blamed for a government shutdown, if it happens. A group of House Republicans met Sunday on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, including Representative Marsha Blackburn.
"This is what President Barack Obama wants. This is all part of his game plan. Shut it down, so he can get the checkbook, and so he, and Attorney General Eric Holder can decide what parts of the federal government are going to stay open," said Blackburn.
Democrats blame Republicans for attaching what they say is a completely unrelated measure on health care to a routine bill to fund the government. Democratic Representative Nita Lowey.
"And once again here we are, discussing yet another unworkable Republican bill, that pushes us closer to a completely avoidable and unnecessary shutdown,” said Lowey.
If the Senate returns a clean spending bill to the House, as expected, it will be up to Speaker Boehner to decide what to do next.
Republican Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy told Fox News Sunday he believes a shutdown can still be averted.
"I think the House will get back together in enough time, send another provision not to shut the government down, but to fund it, and it will have a few other options in there for the Senate to look at again."
Analysts expect high drama on Capitol Hill right up to the midnight deadline, and it may be prelude to another drama later this month, this time over authority for the government to continue borrowing money to pay its bills.