As day nine of the government shutdown drew to a close, the leaders of the House Democratic caucus huddled at the White House with President Obama. When they emerged from the hour-long meeting, House Democrats reiterated what has become the party’s unified line: this shutdown could be over tomorrow if Boehner would just allow a budget vote.
“There are 220 to 230 votes to open this government today, there were 220 to 230 votes to open this government yesterday, and there will be 220-230 votes to open this government tomorrow,” said New York Rep. Steve Israel, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Israel spoke at a White House lawn press conference alongside Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. Pelosi opened the conference and characterized Democratic leadership’s discussion with the president as “positive.”
“We expressed our appreciation to each other for standing strong for the American people,” she said. Echoing President Obama’s Tuesday remarks on the shutdown, she insisted that Democrats were happy to negotiate with Republicans on the budget—after Boehner allows a continuing resolution to pass with no strings attached. Democrats emphasized that the continuing resolution they want passed would essentially amount to a Republican budget, with sequester cuts remaining in place. As Pelosi put it, “We have made every concession.”
Pelosi also insisted that Senate Republicans agree to a clean debt ceiling hike before the October 17 deadline.
“There is no concession on the debt ceiling,” she said. “The debt ceiling has to be lifted. They aren’t getting anything for that.”
Although a short-term debt ceiling hike has been floated as part of a potential resolution to the standoff, Hoyer said that would be a bad idea.
“Democrats are prepared to make sure that the government pays its bills, but good policy, good economics, and building confidence for the American people would be extending it for a substantial period of time, so the markets have the confidence of where we’re going to be next week, next month, and next year,” he said.
During the meeting, President Obama thanked Democratic leaders “for their support of the clean, short-term continuing resolution that would re-open the government and end the unnecessary pain this shutdown is causing families across the country,” according to a statement from the White House press secretary’s office. “The President and Congressional Democrats will continue to urge the Republican Leadership to allow the bill passed by the Senate to have an up or down vote—a bill that, if brought to the floor, would pass with a bipartisan majority and end this damaging government shutdown.”