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Government Shutdown Obama to Invite Republicans to White House

10/11/2013, 3:02 p.m.
Protestors hold signs during an event with the Democratic Progressive Caucus and furloughed federal employees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, as the budget battle continued. Photo by Evan Vucci/AP.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama was making plans to talk with Republican lawmakers at the White House in the coming days as pressure builds on both sides to resolve their deadlock over the federal debt limit and the partial government shutdown.

With the shutdown in its ninth day Wednesday and a potential economy-shaking federal default edging ever closer, a new poll indicated Republicans could pay a political price for Washington’s fiscal paralysis.

It’s not just Republicans taking a hit in a new AP-GfK Poll, which showed that approval ratings for Obama and Democrats were also plummeting as the partial shutdown reached its ninth day and next week’s deadline approached for increasing the U.S. debt limit.

The U.S. government has been partially shut since Oct. 1 because of Congress’ failure to pass a normally routine temporary spending bill. Obama also wants Congress to extend the government’s borrowing authority - another once-routine matter - warning that if it fails to do so by Oct. 17, the United States will not be able to pay its bills.

Republicans were demanding talks on deficit reduction and Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul law as the price for boosting the government’s borrowing authority and returning civil servants to work. Obama wants Congress to first end the shutdown and extend the debt limit.

Amid the tough talk, though, were indications that both sides might be open to a short-term extension of the borrowing limit and a temporary end to the shutdown, giving them more time to resolve their disputes.

Obama used a White House news conference to say he "absolutely" would negotiate with Republicans on "every item in the budget" if Congress first sent him short-term measures halting the shutdown and the extending the debt limit.

"There’s a crack there," John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, said of the clash late Tuesday, though he cautioned against optimism.

Obama was to huddle with House Democrats Wednesday afternoon as both parties look for a way forward. The White House said that the president intends to invite Republicans and senators in the coming days.

Boehner’s Republicans may end up taking the biggest hit in public opinion for Washington’s gridlock, just as that party did when much of the government closed 17 years ago during President Bill Clinton’s administration, according to the Associated Press-GfK survey, released Wednesday.

Overall, 62 percent mainly blamed Republicans for the shutdown. About half said Obama or the Democrats in Congress bear much responsibility.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 3-7 and involved online interviews with 1,227 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

Obama’s approval rating fell to 37 percent. Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader and Boehner, both had a favorability rating of just 18 percent.

The financial world voiced its disapproval, flashing unmistakable signs that it feared Washington’s twin battles could hurt the economy.

The U.S. stock market declined again Tuesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average dropping nearly 160 points, or 1.1 percent. The International Monetary Fund trimmed its global and U.S. growth forecasts through 2014, warning that failure to renew the debt limit would raise interest rates and potentially shove the American economy back into recession.