The GOP’s unanimous filibuster of the “clean” debt ceiling bill Saturday didn’t shake the resolve of Senate Democratic leaders, who continued to insist that Republicans reopen the government and avert default before budget negotiations.
“They’re not doing us a favor by re-opening the government,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters in the Capitol. “They’re not doing us a favor by extending the debt ceiling. That’s part of our jobs.”
Reid confirmed that he had opened a new round of talks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). The group met on Saturday morning.
“The conversations were extremely cordial but very preliminary, of course. Nothing conclusive,” he said. “Senator McConnell asked to meet with me, I was happy to do that.”
“I believe Senator McConnell showed good will. I believe he wants to come to a solution,” said Schumer. “I believe he knows how serious it is to default. And my view is it will be the Senate that will have to come to an agreement here because the House Republicans seem so divided and in such disarray. They don’t have a plan.”
The decision by Reid and his leadership team to stand firm — 12 days into a government shutdown and within five days of breaching the debt limit — signal that Democrats believe they have the upper-hand in the impasse. Polls find that the GOP is bearing the blunt of the blame for the shutdown. Reid said Saturday that a proposal by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was “not going to go any place at this stage.”
No. 4 Democratic Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said Republicans “have to stop asking for hostages in order for our country to be OK.”
The White House believes the Collins plan was constructive but had concerns with the substance, including the spending levels and changes to Obamacare (i.e. putting off the medical device tax), an administration source told TPM.
Asked if the device tax is still on the table, Reid said, “Isn’t it interesting how that’s not part of the discussion anymore? … Obama is no longer their No. 1 issue. Their No. 1 issue is to do anything they can to divert attention from the fools they’ve made of themselves on Obamacare. So we’re taking nothing off the table.”
Democratic leaders are scheduled to meet Saturday afternon with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, according to the White House.