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Obama rejects House GOP call for special committee to work on ending impasse

October 8, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
President Barack Obama refuted Republican criticism he has been unwilling to work on the government's fiscal issues, while House Speaker John Boehner countered that the president's position is unsustainable. Congressional correspondent Kwame Holman reports on efforts in the House and Senate to address the impasse.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Our lead story tonight: accusations again flew up and down Pennsylvania Avenue on the eighth day of the partial government shutdown. President Obama did raise the prospect of a short-term solution to address that and the coming debt limit, but Republicans weren’t buying.

NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman has our report.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I will sit down and work with any one of any party.

KWAME HOLMAN: President Obama came to the White House Briefing Room this afternoon to rebut Republican criticism that he’s refused to negotiate.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I have shown myself willing to go more than halfway in these conversations. And if reasonable Republicans want to talk about these things again, I’m ready to head up to the Hill and try. I’ll even spring for dinner again. But I’m not going to do it until the more extreme parts of the Republican Party stop forcing John Boehner to issue threats about our economy.

KWAME HOLMAN: In fact, the president said, he’s even willing to discuss changes in the health care act after Republicans agree to reopen the government and raise the national debt ceiling.

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He and House Speaker Boehner did get together by phone this morning, but reportedly mostly exchanged talking points. Shortly after Mr. Obama spoke this afternoon, Boehner came before the cameras with his answer: The president’s position he said, is unsustainable.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio: The long and short of it is, there’s going to be a negotiation here. We can’t raise the debt ceiling without doing something about what’s driving us to borrow more money and to live beyond our means.

The idea that we should continue to spend money that we don’t have and give the bill to our kids and our grandkids would be wrong. What the president said today was, if there’s unconditional surrender by Republicans, he will sit down and talk to us. That’s not the way our government works.

KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, House Republicans say they will call for a special bipartisan committee to work out fiscal issues and end the impasse. A similar group in 2011 tried and failed to reach an agreement on deficit reduction, and the president today rejected trying that again.

MAN: A quorum is present.

KWAME HOLMAN: And, over in the Senate, Democrats made plans to offer a straight-up bill raising the debt ceiling. It faced a likely Republican filibuster.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The impasse in Washington did a number on the stock market again today. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped another 159 points to close at 14,776. The Nasdaq fell 75 points to close below 3,695.