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POLITICS: PennAve

Day Nine: Lots of impatience, little agreement and no progress

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Barack Obama,Senate,John Boehner,PennAve,Government Shutdown

With the ninth day of the government shutdown beginning Wednesday, the House and Senate are no closer to a federal funding deal or a plan to raise the nation's borrowing limit by the mid-October deadline.

But both parties are getting impatient.

"Why doesn't the Senate lead," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., proposed Tuesday during a special session called by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to discuss the gridlock.

"Let's find a way out of this," he said. "I don't care if it's appointed people or informal conversations. But there should be a way out."

But a day of dueling partisan press conferences, a tense call between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, and Reid's Senate floor discussion about the impasse produced no path forward.

Reid is preparing for a vote on a $1.1 trillion increase in the government's borrowing limit that would cover government expenses through Dec. 31, 2014.

But Obama then signaled to Republicans that he would be willing to discuss a short-term debt ceiling increase that would give both sides more time to negotiate — but only after Republicans approve a government funding bill with no strings attached. The short-term deal, however, is a non-starter for Reid and Boehner.

The House, meanwhile, has been passing a series of targeted bills that would fund specific portions of the shuttered federal government. They also approved a bill Tuesday night that called on the House and Senate to form a bipartisan committee to work out their differences over the debt ceiling. Obama and congressional Democrats quickly rejected it.

"It's another message bill designed to get through tomorrow's news cycle," Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said.

Republicans approved the creation of a special committee in hopes of drawing Democrats into negotiations over both the debt ceiling and the government funding bill. But Obama has said repeatedly that he will not negotiate until after Republicans agree to fund the government.

"Senate Democrats and the White House have said that they will do nothing until their demands are met," Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., said after the House approved the legislation. "They won’t talk. They won’t bother to govern."

The House plans to vote Wednesday on two additional bills that also are intended to pressure Democrats.

One bill would provide funding to keep the Federal Aviation Administration operating during the shutdown. A second, "Honoring the Families of Fallen Soldiers Act," would provide a special allocation that would pay death benefits to the families of fallen soldiers, which were being delayed under the shutdown.

The Senate is refusing to take up the GOP funding bills, even though House Democrats voted for them.

"There are nine bills here," Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said, "that could be picked up and passed by unanimous consent, that provide funding and relief in support for the services and programs that impact people across the country."

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Susan Ferrechio

Chief Congressional Correspondent
The Washington Examiner