Pelosi: Budget ball in Boehner's court

Republicans have the next move in the fight over how to prevent a government shutdown, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday.

“What's next is what the Republicans will come up with,” Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol.

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Pelosi took part in a meeting between bipartisan leaders of both chambers just hours earlier in the Capitol, as the lawmakers search for a way to fund the government and prevent a shutdown on Oct. 1.

Pelosi declined to comment on the substance of the meeting, but suggested that the sides had, for the time being, agreed to disagree.

“We listened to each other, and I think that candor saves time,” she said, “so ... in that respect we have made some progress in understanding where we all are as we go forward.

“We may not like what each of us has to say, but it is a reflection of our caucus[es],” she added.

House GOP leaders were forced this week to pull their short-term spending proposal after conservatives in their conference revolted over the absence of stronger language to defund President Obama's healthcare reform law.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that GOP leaders have no solid plan for how they'll proceed.

“There are a million options that are being discussed by a lot of people,” Boehner said after Thursday's meeting.

The issue is a tough one for Boehner and other GOP leaders, caught between preventing a government shutdown for fear Republicans will be blamed and appeasing conservatives with ObamaCare language they know won't pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Thursday that GOP leaders have not approached him for help getting votes to prevent a shutdown.

Pelosi on Thursday offered a theory why, accusing the Republicans of trying to shutter the government purposefully by pushing spending bills with no chance of becoming law.

“The proposals the Republicans are putting forward are not proposals ... to keep government open, they are proposals to shut down government,” Pelosi charged. “Just because you're an anti-government ideologue who's landed in Congress doesn't mean that you should be shutting down the government.”

Pelosi said the ObamaCare language in the most recent GOP proposal was a non-starter for Democrats, and she blasted the post-sequester, $988 billion spending level in that bill as “unacceptable.” She warned that Democrats would vote en masse against similar legislation, if Republicans push it later in the month.

“As bad as all of that was, it wasn't bad enough for those in the Republican Caucus, so they have to go make matters worse, and when they bring that forward, we'll see what it is and make a judgment.

“But,” she warned, “if it looks anything like what they were considering now, [you'll see] a strong negative vote on the part of the Democrats.”

The Democrats are pushing an alternative continuing resolution, sponsored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), that would eliminate the sequester with a series of revenue hikes and different spending cuts, and extend the government's life through the middle of November at a level of $1.058 trillion.

“We're asking for a vote,” Pelosi said Thursday. “We're hoping that we have that opportunity.”