Day Two of the government shutdown ended Wednesday with congressional lawmakers no closer to a funding deal needed to reopen it.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday told House Speaker John Boehner that Democrats would negotiate over changes to Obamacare and the federal budget — but only after House Republicans reauthorized funding for the government without any strings attached. Republicans rejected the offer.
“Offering to negotiate only after Democrats get everything they want is not much of an offer,” Boehner spokesperson Michael Steel said.
The impasse continued against a backdrop of blatant political posturing. Members of Congress posed for photos with World War II veterans at the shuttered memorial to that war. Senators posed for photos answering their own phones, the job usually of furloughed staff. Dueling news conference were set up on the Capitol steps for maximum effect.
The House passed by acclimation a measure to fund the District of Columbia, and other fund measures for specific government departments were approved by Republicans with some Democratic support. The Senate, however, indicated it would not consider any of partial funding bills and President Obama threatened to veto them even if they passed.
Lawmakers say they see no quick resolution to the government shutdown, but believe the government-funding issue is now on a collision course with negotiations of the debt limit, which must be raised by Oct. 17 or the government will default on its financial obligation.
“Watch this thing move toward the debt ceiling and watch the (government funding bill) and the debt ceiling and this partial shutdown all come to a head all at the same time,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.
That dynamic stoked rumors of a grand bargain being in the works, particularly after the four top congressional leaders were called to the White House for a meeting with Obama.
As the House's business wound and congressional leaders continued talking with the president, Rep. Trey Radel looked down at a news alert that popped up on his phone — and then back up, with a sigh. It wasn't the news he was wanted to see.
“I was hoping that the president and leadership had said, ‘You know what? We’ve got everything solved,’” said Radel, R-Fla.
They hadn’t quite. After a nearly hour-long meeting, leaders of both parties said they were still not budging.
Both the House and Senate, meanwhile, finished their business for the evening — ensuring the government shutdown would extend into a third day that looks much like the second.