President Obama said he had not given up hope on averting a government shutdown even as Congress appeared no closer to reaching a budget compromise Monday afternoon when the Senate gavelled back into session.
The president said that he was “not at all resigned” to a shutdown at midnight and that he planned to meet with congressional leaders from both parties on Monday as well as during the rest of the week.
Congress has two responsibilities: to “pass a budget and pay the bills,” the president said after a scheduled meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.
“If you set aside the short-term politics and look at a long-term deal, it simply requires everyone to act for the American people,” he added.
Lawmakers are mired in a stalemate after the Republican-controlled House passed a bill to fund the government through mid-December and delay Obama’s Affordable Care Act for a year. The Obama administration and the Democrat-led Senate have vowed to reject such a bill, and ripped Republicans for taking the entire federal government hostage in an attempt to defund a three-year-old law that even John Roberts has upheld as constitutional.
Just after 2 p.m. the Senate voted on a party-line 54-46 vote to strip the House provision to delay Obamacare, a move that inches the government even closer to a shutdown. The bill now gets kicked back to the House.
If Congress can’t hammer out a deal, it will be the first time since 1995 that the government shut down.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at a press briefing on Monday afternoon that Obama is eager to compromise and find a “common sense” solution to keeping the government open but he won’t deal with “blatant extortion” as is the case with the House’s attempt to derail Obamacare.
Carney listed a number of programs that would be affected by a government shutdown, including Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts and programs for the elderly, women and children. He urged the House to accept the Senate’s “clean” version of the legislation to keep the government funded for a few weeks in order to allow both sides to find a long-term solution.
Carney said the president still plans to leave Saturday night for a week-long trip to Asia.
Obama’s senior adviser, Dan Pfeiffer, echoed Carney’s sentiment on GOP resistance, telling MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell that Republicans have been unwilling to negotiate.
“They don’t want a negotiation. They want to give us a list of demands,” said Pfeiffer.