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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.

The Obama administration has said that unless Congress acts, it expects to have an estimated $30 billion in cash left by Oct. 17. That is pocket change for a government that can spend tens of billions more than that on busy days and $3.6 trillion a year.

Hitting that date without congressional action would risk an unprecedented federal default that would wound the economy and deal lasting harm to the government’s ability to borrow money, many economists warn.

Some Republicans have downplayed the significance of the deadline, saying that even then, the United States would be able to pay China and other holders of U.S. debt.

But Obama said they were badly misguided, warning that default would harm the economy, cause retirement accounts to shrivel and houses to lose value.

Other Republicans have made it clear in recent days they agree with the threat posed by default and are determined to prevent it.

On Tuesday, Senate Democrats introduced legislation that would avoid those scenarios by letting the government borrow money through Dec. 31, 2014. It contained no spending cuts or other deficit-cutting steps many Republicans seek.

The bill’s fate was uncertain, since the 54 votes Democrats can usually muster are short of the 60 votes they would need to overcome procedural maneuvers aimed at derailing the bill. An initial test vote seemed likely by Saturday.

Tuesday’s economic tremors did little to alter each side’s demands.

Republicans were continuing their tactic of pushing narrowly targeted bills through the House _ over Democratic objections _ that would restart popular parts of the government.

On Wednesday, they planned votes on a measure financing death benefits to families of fallen U.S. troops. Blaming the shutdown, the Pentagon has halted the $100,000 payments, usually made within three days of a death, a stoppage Boehner called "disgraceful."

The shutdown began more than a week ago after Obama and Senate Democrats rejected Republican demands to defund "Obamacare," then to delay it, and finally to force a one-year delay in the requirement for individuals to purchase health care coverage or face a financial penalty.

It was not a course Boehner and the leadership had recommended _ preferring a less confrontational approach and hoping to defer a showdown for the debt limit. Their hand was forced by a strategy advanced by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and conservative tea party-aligned House members determined to eradicate the health care law before it fully took root.

AP Special Correspondent David Espo contributed to this report.