Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH). (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON - An angry House Speaker John Boehner on Friday called on President Obama and Democrats to "sit down" and negotiate, as the government shutdown continued for its fourth day with no end in sight.
"This isn't some damn game," Boehner said after a GOP conference meeting, his voice rising. "The American people don't want their government shut down and neither do I. All we're asking for is to sit down and have a discussion ... to reopen the government and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare."
President Obama and congressional Democrats say they will negotiate on a broad, long-term budget deal after Republicans agree to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. The budget impasse is now entwined with the need to raise the nation's borrowing authority by Oct. 17 or risk default on debt.
Boehner's flash of anger was apparently prompted by a story in The Wall Street Journal, in which an unnamed senior Obama administration official was quoted as saying, "We are winning. ... it doesn't really matter to us" how long the shutdown lasts. He held up the newspaper, then slammed it down during the GOP news conference.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a post on Twitter, "We utterly disavow idea WH doesn't care when it ends. House should act now, no strings."
The unnamed White House official quoted said essentially the same thing that Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was overheard telling his Kentucky colleague, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on a live microphone Thursday: "We're going to win this, I think."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a CBS News interview that disagreements among Republicans will need to be resolved so all parties can come to the table. A group of conservatives have been pushing to tie funding of the government to provisions that would impact Obama's health care law, and Boehner said Friday the House GOP is still insisting on "fairness" under the Affordable Care Act.
"It will take some coming together on the Republican side," Pelosi said on CBS' This Morning. "It's very hard to negotiate with the Republicans when they can't negotiate with themselves."
The House was preparing to vote Friday on bills that would provide short-term funding for disaster relief and a program that provides food aid to women and children. Democrats have consistently rejected a piecemeal approach, preferring instead to find agreement on a bill that would reopen the entire federal government.
The Office of Management and Budget said Obama would veto the short-term measures. "Consideration of appropriations bills in this fashion is not a serious or responsible way to run the United States government," the OMB policy statement said. "Instead of opening up a few government functions, the House of Representatives should reopen all of the government."
Another House measure to ensure that thousands of federal employees who have been furloughed this week receive their pay retroactively could be voted on Saturday, when House leadership has scheduled a series of votes on smaller funding bills.