“The government should be open now,” Reid declared, flanked by Senate Democratic leaders after a nearly two-hour meeting with President Obama at the White House Thursday.
Reid told reporters that Obama shared his belief that negotiations should not take place unless the entire federal government is reopened
“The President and the Congressional Democrats share the principle that we cannot allow a faction of the House Republicans to demand a ransom from the American people in exchange for Congress doing its job, and the President reaffirmed that we will not allow them to hold the economy hostage to an extreme political agenda that includes demands like defunding Obamacare or reinstating tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires that the majority of Americans reject,” said the White House in a readout of the meeting.
The Democratic summit came as Republicans float a plan that would increase the nation's debt limit for six weeks but not end a government shutdown now in its tenth day.
The GOP would also like a White House commitment to negotiations around a broader budget deal.
The White House has signaled that it would support a short-term debt limit increase even if the government shutdown were not addressed.
Such a development clashes with some progressives who say the White House should accept nothing short of a so-called “clean” bill to keep both the government funded and raise the debt ceiling.
Reid was noncommittal on the GOP proposal in the works, saying he would “wait and see” what the House produces.
But the majority leader continued to blame GOP infighting for the gridlock in Washington.
“This is a situation,” the Reid said, “where they don’t know what they want.”
Obama will meet with House GOP leaders later Thursday at the White House.
This story was published at 4:09 p.m. and has been updated.