Lawmakers continue to make slow progress in striking a deal to reopen the federal government and avoid a credit default, with House Speaker John Boehner saying Tuesday he is continuing to negotiate with his caucus to find a palatable solution.
Senate Democrats and Republicans struck a compromise framework late Monday, but the House Republican leadership remained resistant.
"There are a lot of opinions about what direction to go," Boehner said at a press briefing following a meeting with his members. "There have been no decisions about exactly what we will do. But we're going to continue to work with our members on both sides of the aisle to try to make sure that there's no issue of default and to get our government reopened."
The Senate deal would reopen the government until Jan. 15 and increase the debt limit until Feb. 7, to give budget negotiators time to work out a longer-term spending agreement by the end of the year. But House Republicans continue to seek more changes to President Barack Obama's health care law.
"I'm glad to see that [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid and the Senate finally [have] begun to sit down and talk with the Republican leader there and we encourage that," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor during the briefing. "We also, though, as the House Republican conference think it's very, very important for us to trust that whatever proposal we move forward will reflect our position on fairness that [includes] no special treatment for anyone under the law."
Conservatives – who initially aimed to defund the Affordable Care Act – are pressing Democrats to accept a compromise that includes delaying a medical device tax intended to help offset some of the costs of the bill and ban federal health insurance subsidies for members of Congress, their staffs, and White House officials. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who led the Senate effort to defund Obamacare, reportedly met with some of the House's most conservative members Monday night to discuss the details of the Senate plan. But by not making a vote announcement, Boehner made it clear his members are still not ready to sign onto the Senate deal.
"We're working with our members on a way forward and to make sure that we provide fairness to the American people," he said.
Obama is scheduled to meet with the House Democratic leadership Tuesday afternoon to discuss negotiations. But a White House spokeswoman made it clear Obama is committed to holding his line on not negotiating on the debt ceiling vote.
"The president has said repeatedly that members of Congress don't get to demand ransom for fulfilling their basic responsibilities to pass a budget and pay the nation's bills," said Amy Brundage, a White House spokeswoman in a release. "Unfortunately, the latest proposal from House Republicans does just that in a partisan attempt to appease a small group of Tea Party Republicans who forced the government shutdown in the first place."
Polling shows Republicans are taking a shellacking for their role in the government shutdown, but Americans are down on politicians of all stripes as the intransigence spills over into another week.