House Republican leaders will take up two bills this week to pressure Democrats to negotiate a new deal that would reopen the government and raise the nation's $16.7 trillion debt ceiling.
The latest GOP effort comes as both sides continue to dig in on government funding and the new health care law even as the government shutdown entered its eighth day.
Even as Republicans sought to turn up the heat on Democrats, President Obama on Tuesday called House Speaker John Boehner "to reiterate that he won't negotiate on a government funding bill or debt limit increase," a Boehner aide said. The president said he would negotiate with Republicans over a variety of other fiscal matters, but only after the GOP signs off on a spending bill and debt limit increase.
With a comprehensive deal nowhere in sight, Republican may vote as early as this week on legislation that would create a bipartisan committee to work out a deal, aides said. The GOP also wants to vote this week on another bill that would quickly restore the paychecks for government employees, like the Capitol Police, who remain on the job even though they're not being paid.
The GOP's move is part of an effort to win spending reductions and limits to the new health care law as part of an agreement to raise the borrowing limit and fund the federal government for fiscal 2014.
Boehner said Tuesday after a closed-door meeting with GOP lawmakers that he wants Obama to negotiate over the debt ceiling, which must be raised in a matter of weeks to prevent the federal government from defaulting on its financial obligations.
"All we're asking for is to sit down and have this conversation," Boehner told reporters.
House Republicans have so far passed nine targeted spending bills that would open select parts of the government, including the national parks and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The House will vote Tuesday to restore funding to the Head Start early education program and federal aid to certain schools.
The Democratic Senate has refused to take up any of the House's targeted legislation aside from approving a bill to pay the military.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the GOP is employing "magical thinking" in its efforts to stop the health care law.
Reid wants the House to pass a government funding bill with no strings attached.
"All Speaker Boehner has to do is be reasonable," Reid said Tuesday. "Allow a vote in the House of Representatives on the Senate's clean continuing resolution, a bill the speaker proposed in the first place. It will pass. The government will reopen. Then we can get back to the negotiating table and work out our budget disagreements."
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., argued on the Senate floor early Tuesday that the Senate should take up the House funding measures, many of which passed with bipartisan support, including a bill passed this weekend to restore back pay to federal workers.
"There were 189 Democrats who voted in support of that bill," Thune noted.