By Mike Lillis - 10/08/13 06:27 PM EDT
Every House Democrat would vote for a clean government funding bill, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday, upping the pressure on Republican leaders to end the shutdown by bringing such a bill to the floor.
But Hoyer, the Democratic whip, predicted that all 200 Democrats would support such a measure. Combined with the more than 20 centrist Republicans who have also said they'd vote to approve a clean CR, the House would have little trouble reopening the government if that bill hits the floor, he argued.
"My view is every Democrat will vote for that, and all the Speaker needs to have happen are [votes from] … the 25 people [Republicans] who have said publicly they will vote for a bill that opens up the government," Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol Tuesday. "Put the bill on the floor."
Hoyer said Boehner fears doing so, not because it wouldn't pass, but for the political embarrassment of having a majority of Republicans vote to keep the government closed despite the negative economic effects.
"There's been no genuine attempt to reopen the entire government," he said.
Boehner last month had hoped to enact a clean CR and delay the fight over ObamaCare to the looming debt-ceiling debate. But conservatives revolted, causing GOP leaders to insist on efforts to defund, delay or scale back President Obama's 2010 healthcare law as part of the funding fight.
When no agreement was reached by Oct. 1, the government closed its doors.
More recently, the Republicans have pushed smaller spending bills to fund individual pieces of the government — efforts that have been rebuffed by the Senate.
Hoyer said the Republicans' piecemeal approach would reopen roughly 7 percent of the government per week, a pace that would lead to a full reopening "sometime in the latter part of January."
"Of course, all of these bills end on Dec. 15," he added. "It is a game; it is a pretense without substance and without principle.
On Tuesday, GOP leaders announced their latest strategy: the creation of a new bipartisan committee to negotiate a big spending and debt package.
Boehner, who has refused to negotiate budget issues with Obama for most of the year, reversed course in recent days and is now accusing the president of refusing to talk to Republicans. The new committee is designed, in part, to lure Obama to the table — a notion the president has rejected in the context of the shutdown and risk of default.
Hoyer on Tuesday praised the idea of bipartisan talks on a budget grand bargain, a package he's urged for years, but he warned that it would be impossible to reach an agreement on such thorny issues given the Treasury's warning of a government default on Oct. 17.
"We need to have a comprehensive addressing of America's fiscal sustainability," he said. "But there is no way we can get to that deal … in the next eight days."