WASHINGTON -- As the clock ticks toward a possible Oct. 1 government shutdown, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday the House will not accept the Senate's stopgap spending bill.
"I don't see that happening," Boehner said following a closed door meeting with House Republicans.
The Senate could vote as early as Thursday on a stopgap spending bill to keep the government running through Nov. 15. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., removed from the bill a House-passed provision to defund President Obama's health care law.
The Senate is expected to send a "clean" spending bill with no health care provisions back to the House this weekend. Boehner will then amend the spending bill and volley it back to the Senate, with roughly 24 hours before a shutdown would take place. The outcome is unclear, but Boehner expressed confidence that a deal was possible. "I do not expect (a shutdown) to happen," he said. "The American people don't want the president's health care bill, and they don't want the government to shut down. Republicans are listening."
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said if Republicans send a bill back to the Senate on Monday, a shutdown is more likely. "Make no mistake, if they send us a (spending bill) that is unclean, they are virtually shutting down the government," he said.
Republicans are considering a number of options including shortening the length of the budget bill or reattaching provisions to rein in the health care law.
The assault on the health care law is part of a two-pronged effort by congressional Republicans to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act, which begins open enrollment on Oct. 1.
House Republican leaders briefed their lawmakers Thursday morning on a separate legislative package they intend to attach to an impending vote to raise the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said the nation will reach its borrowing limit by Oct. 17.
The House could vote as early as Friday on a package to extend the debt ceiling through the 2014 midterm elections in exchange for a one-year full delay of the implementation of the health care law. The package also includes a list of popular Republican budget provisions, including instructions for an overhaul of the tax code, authorization for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, eliminating business and environment regulations, and reductions to mandatory health care spending.
Reid said Thursday that none of the conditions could be accepted by the Senate. White House spokesman Jay Carney called it an "extraordinary laundry list of Republican perennials," adding: "You know, the only thing I didn't see mentioned was, like, a birther bill to attach to it."
President Obama and congressional Democrats have vowed not to negotiate on the debt ceiling because of the threats a default holds for the economy. But Obama has negotiated on a debt ceiling increase in previous confrontations, and Republicans believe Democrats will again. "Now, the president says, I'm not going to negotiate. Well, I'm sorry, but it just doesn't work that way," Boehner said.
Carney said Wednesday that he expects Obama to meet soon with congressional leaders, but a date has not been set.