Republican leaders are slowly convincing the GOP conference to move toward a continuing resolution that would keep the government funded and the Capitol's lights on before the Monday deadline, but leadership's best shot may be to pivot toward the debt ceiling.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, met with his rank and file members Thursday to announce a plan to punt a list of demands including a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and tax reform to the debt ceiling.
The White House has repeated at every turn that it won't negotiate the country's borrowing limit. President Barack Obama even called the speaker directly to make that clear.
But Boehner said Thursday during his weekly press conference that he'd continue to push.
"The president says, 'I am not going to negotiate,'" Boehner said. "Well, I am sorry, but it just doesn't work that way."
Less than a week ago, House Republicans were united in a plan to defund the Affordable Care Act using a temporary funding bill, but the Senate is planning to strip the defund provision from that legislation, leaving Republicans searching for another opportunity to stop Obamacare.
"President Obama has already delayed the law for big business, for insurance companies and the politically connected, so this is only fair for us to say American families should have the benefit of delay," Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Thursday in a speech.
While Americans were weary of a government shutdown that could result if the Senate, House and White House cannot come to an agreement on the continuing resolution, a host of polls out Thursday show that Americans want Congress and the president to play ball on the debt ceiling.
An Ending Spending and American Action Forum poll showed that 65 percent of Americans were opposed to raising the debt ceiling without reforming the country's spending practices.
"Speaker John Boehner and the House Republicans have the opportunity, in the wake of the Obamacare debate, to demand some serious cuts in the budget before any discussions of a debt limit increase," said Brian Baker, the president of Ending Spending.
The center-right group's poll also showed 54 percent of Americans would support raising the debt ceiling if the White House agreed to delay the full implementation of Obamacare for one year. And 73 percent of Americans want to see the president approve the Keystone XL pipeline as part of the debt ceiling debate.
A Bloomberg poll also revealed that 60 percent of Americans thought that Congress should negotiate with the president on the debt ceiling and were opposed to Obama getting his debt ceiling increase without a mix of spending cuts.