President Obama met with the 4 leaders of congress, Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and Harry Reid, at the White House at 5:30PM on Wednesday. No progress was made and each side blamed the other for the lack of progress.
Meanwhile, the House continues to pass bills aimed at putting high profile departments back into operation. Today, they passed spending bills on national parks (252-173) and the National Institutes of Health (254-171). In both cases a couple of dozen democrats voted for the bills. Obama has vowed to veto them because passing a budget piecemeal is not the right thing to do.
That sentiment is hard to take seriously, considering that since he has been president, that is how the government has been funded every year. Harry Reid and the democratic Senate have not passed a budget since Obama has been in office, so that spending bills have been piecemealed together in order to fund each department. Only for part of 2009, did Obama have a budget and that was passed under George Bush.
The Senate is constitutionally obligated to pass a budget every year. They have not passed a budget in four years. In fact, the current shutdown could be laid at Harry Reid's feet. Had he allowed a budget to be written, there would have been no shutdown and the government would have money through September of 2014.
Washington is feeling the pinch too, as they are not allowed to use their own funds to keep their government open. They are not looking for federal dollars. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city's nonvoting member of congress tried to convince her fellow democrats to vote for the bill, but instead, they blocked the bill. She has vowed to continue to work on democrats and the president to approve the Republican bill.
Harry Reid tried to put on facade of negotiations by offering to form a committee on the budget after a clean continuing resolution has been passed. The offer is more of a public relations move than an honest offer to negotiate. As Speaker Boehner has pointed out , offering to negotiate after the democrats get everything they want is a non starter. The democrats have been pushing for a committee for months and Republicans have blocked the attempt 18 times.
Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi described the meeting as productive and worthwhile and Boehner described the meeting as "polite" but noted that there was nothing accomplished whatsoever, as the democrats continue to bully their way through the process.
Harry Reid has threatene to allow the government closure to carry over until the debt limit fight, combining the two. It may lead to a showdown on the unrestricted spending policies of the last 4 1/2 years. Democrats appear to be losing the public relations war. Last week's polls showed that 46% blamed the republicans and only 36% blamed Obama and the democrats. This week the polls are much closer with republicans receiving blame by only 3% in a poll with a margin of error of 3.7%.