The Senate is debating legislation approved a week ago by the House that ensured the government doesn't shut down on Oct. 1 but also eliminated funding for Obamacare. The Democratic chamber is set to restore Affordable Care Act funding in the bill and send it back to the House. Boehner made clear, though, that the GOP is unlikely to approve the measure as Democrats rewrote it, despite the risk of the government shutting down Tuesday without it.
“I've made it clear now, for months and months and months: We have no interest in seeing a government shutdown,” Boehner said.
Boehner and his leadership team spoke to reporters Thursday following a closed-door meeting at which House Republicans discussed what their next steps should be on the government spending bill and separate but equally urgent legislation needed to raise the nation's debt limit. Despite claims that the GOP didn't want to shut down the government, Boehner declined to elaborate on what amendments Republicans might attach to the government funding bill they receive from the Senate.
Republicans are mulling several options, including another attempt at defunding President Obama’s health care law and a provision that would eliminate the employer health insurance contribution now given to lawmakers and their staff.
Meanwhile, House Republicans are moving ahead with legislation that would raise the federal borrowing limit, and could vote on it this weekend. The bill would include a one-year delay in the implementation of Obamacare; approval of the Keystone XL pipeline; changes to the tax code; spending cuts and other government reform measures.
Republicans sources said the leadership feels there is strong enough support for a debt ceiling bill among House Republicans to move ahead with this legislation, which probably would fail if it depended on Democratic votes to pass. No vote has been scheduled yet.
Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said Republicans probably have the 218 votes they need to pass the debt ceiling measure, though lawmakers are entangled for now in a more immediate crisis over a potential government shutdown.
"It's better to be proactive on the debit limit than wait to the final 48 hours," he said. "It's the right thing to do discussing it now."
Obama said he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, but House Republicans hope that polls showing public opposition to the president's approach will force him to the table.
“We call on the president now, to sit down with us — [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-Nev.] to sit down with us — and let’s solve the problem,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said.
Kingston said he believes Obama eventually will reach out to Congress to hammer out a compromise on the debt limit.
"All presidents negotiate on the debt ceiling," Kingston said. "Debt ceilings are traditional triggers for negotiations, and I think the president will put demagoguery aside and start talking."
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., said the debt ceiling negotiations offer a better opportunity to attack Obamacare than the government funding bill did because "the American people believe that they don't want to shut the government down over Obamacare funding."
"They would be willing to do the fight with regards to the debt limit," he said. "That's where I think public opinion is, that's where our constituents are, and that's where we need to be."