Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are pressing ahead with their preferred plan, which would push the next debt-limit fight into 2015 and include no policy conditions. A test vote could occur tomorrow.
Democrats, who control 54 seats in the 100-member Senate, would need the support of at least six Republicans on procedural votes to pass their bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s proposal would suspend the debt ceiling through Dec. 31, 2014. Because the Treasury Department can use extraordinary measures to stave off default, another increase wouldn’t be needed until sometime in 2015. The previous debt-limit suspension expired on May 18 and the extraordinary measures are lasting five months.
“I hope the Republicans decide what they want and we’ll be happy to work with them in any way,” Reid, of Nevada, said at the White House after he and other Senate Democrats met with Obama for almost two hours yesterday. “We’ll just wait and see because they cannot decide what they want.”
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released yesterday found that 53 percent of those surveyed blamed Republicans for the fiscal impasse, compared with 31 percent who blame Obama.
The shutdown would pare 0.2 percentage point from U.S. economic growth if it lasts through this week and as much as 0.5 point if it continues another two weeks, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
Republicans are debating what policy conditions they will insist upon. House Republicans are backing away from demanding major changes to the 2010 health-care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the aide said.
The government shutdown started Oct. 1 after Republicans insisted that further funding for many programs be tied to a one-year delay in the health-insurance mandate.
Obama and Senate Democrats refused, and the resulting furloughs and agency shutdowns have slowed mortgage closings, small-business loans and nutrition assistance to poor mothers. Some programs, such as Social Security, continue uninterrupted.