Boehner quickly shot down the offer through his spokesman Michael Steel, holding to his position in favor of negotiating only a stopgap bill, and making clear that Republicans intend to sustain the shutdown until Democrats agree to slice away parts of the Affordable Care Act.
"The entire government is shut down right now because Washington Democrats refuse to even talk about fairness for all Americans under ObamaCare," Steel said. "Offering to negotiate only after Democrats get everything they want is not much of an offer."
Democrats have not only refused to weaken the health care law, they've declined to make further concessions on a two- or three-month stopgap bill because they believe Republicans will simply come back and demand more when it expires. Instead they want to initiate negotiations on an actual budget -- with everything on the table -- to resolve the parties' fiscal differences and stop governing from crisis to crisis.
But Republicans have now rejected 19 formal requests by Senate Democrats since April to hold bicameral budget negotiations -- for two reasons. First, they don't want to make any compromises on tax revenues. Second, they want to use deadlines like government funding and the debt ceiling as leverage to extract policy concessions that they lack the votes to achieve through the regular legislative process.
The stalemate means the federal government may not reopen until Congress finds a way to raise the borrowing limit ahead of an Oct. 17 deadline. House Republican leaders are considering merging the two difficult issues given the short time frame.
Not all Republicans support their leaders for blocking budget talks. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) told TPM on Tuesday he wants his party to accept Democrats' offer and come to a budget deal.
"They should have done that long ago," he said before walking into a closed-door GOP meeting.
Meanwhile, House Republicans are moving forward with five piecemeal bills to fund national parks and museums, the District of Columbia, veterans services, cancer research and the guard and reserve. Although a similar effort failed Tuesday, because the votes were held at a two-thirds majority, it's likely to succeed in the House at a simple majority threshold on Wednesday. But Democrats see the move as a ploy that could end in Obamacare not being funded, so the Senate will probably reject it. And either way, the White House threatened to veto the bills.
Each side dug in on Wednesday afternoon, offering no signs of bringing the shutdown to an end anytime soon. House Republicans held a press conference talking up their piecemeal plan. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called on Republicans to allow a vote on a clean continuing resolution. Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) again took to the floor to call for budget negotiations, for the 19th time, to which Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) objected on behalf of his party and blocked the request, for the 19th time.