Government Shutdown

Oct 8, 2013 6:28 PM by Stephanie Condon - CBS News

Obama to Republicans: End government shutdown, then let's talk

WASHINGTON, DC - President Obama on Tuesday said he's willing to sit down and talk with Republicans over anything they wish to negotiate after they re-open the government and drop the threat of letting the nation default on its loans, if only for a few weeks.

"I will not eliminate any topic of conversation, and I've shown myself willing to engage all the parties involved, any leader on the issue," Mr. Obama said from the White House press briefing room. "The only thing I will say is that we're not going to pay a ransom for America paying its bills. That's something that should be non-negotiable."

After eight days of a government shutdown, with the deadline to raise the nation's debt limit less than two weeks away, Washington has found itself incapable of overcoming their partisan disagreements.

The stalemate stems from the Republican Party's insistence on dismantling or delaying parts of the Affordable Care Act as part of these fiscal policy matters.

Some members of Congress have suggested at least passing a short-term bill to keep the government funded for just six weeks, giving them more time to negotiate. Mr. Obama said he would "absolutely" negotiate with Republicans, even if Congress only passed a bill to re-open the government for another six weeks.

The president slammed the conservative members of Congress who are using government operations and the threat of default as bargaining chips, remarking, "The greatest nation on Earth shouldn't have to get permission from a few irresponsible members of Congress every few months just to keep our government open."

This level of political dysfunction "hurts our credibility around the world," Mr. Obama said, noting that he has missed critical meetings in Asia because of the government shutdown and the looming threat of default. "It makes it look like we don't have our act together, and that's not something we should welcome."

The president argued that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, could end the government shutdown immediately by putting a no-strings-attached budget bill up for a vote on the House floor. Until Boehner does that, Mr. Obama said, "there's going to be a cloud over U.S. economic credibility."

Passing a no-strings-attached bill would take a bipartisan vote. As of now CBS News estimates that 214 House members, including all Democrats and 14 Republicans, would support such a bill, meaning the votes are almost there, but not quite.

Boehner on Tuesday morning insisted that Democrats and Republicans should sit down for negotiations without any preconditions -- before re-opening the government.

With no end to the stalemate in sight and in a bit of theatrics, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Tuesday called for all members of the Senate to report to the floor, in order to initiate an open conversation about the importance of solving these issues. Once on the floor, Reid called the shutdown "an embarrassment to our nation." He noted the significant impact it has had on government services; for instance, the Pentagon says it no longer has authority to pay death gratuities to the survivors of servicemembers killed in action.

"The families of five U.S. servicemembers who were killed over the weekend in Afghanistan have been notified that they won't receive their benefits," Reid said. "The families who lost five loved ones, it's an unbearable loss, but now they're being denied death benefits because of this senseless shutdown. It's shameful and embarrassing, there are no words to describe this situation."

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