Congress is locked in a stalemate as an October 1 shutdown and October 17 default descend on Washington.
On the one side, President Obama and Democratic leaders are demanding Republicans fund the government and raise the debt ceiling without undermining the Affordable Care Act or holding out for other GOP priorities.
“My message to Congress is this: Do not shut down the government, do not shut down the economy,” Obama said in an address to the nation Friday. “Pass a budget on time. Pay our bills on time.”
On the other side, House Republicans are demanding–well, nobody knows yet.
Thus begins the next phase of the standoff.
With only two days to avert a shutdown, Speaker John Boehner is scheduled to meet with his caucus Saturday at noon to try to game out a way forward. His options include passing the Senate’s bill to fund the government until November 15 with Democratic support, passing another bill with different demands, or passing the same defunding bill. Given the timing, the latter two would likely result in a shutdown Monday night unless they were accompanied by a short term fix to extend negotiations.
Boehner is running into problems getting all factions of his party united behind one option.
On the “fight on!” side, Senator Ted Cruz, an influential figure with the Tea Party wing, is publicly urging House Republicans to pass the same anti-Obamacare bill again and hope for a miraculous change of heart in the Senate when they take it up again.
Boehner may have other ideas. House leaders indicated earlier this week they might fold on the shutdown in order to rally members behind an even bigger bet on the debt ceiling. But that idea doesn’t seem to be going anywhere either. Despite drafting a huge list of demands attached to the debt limit hike–everything from an Obamacare delay to gutting environmental regulations–House conservatives rejected it, saying they wanted to see how the CR fight plays out first.
With deadlines approaching fast, though, they don’t have much time to dawdle.