Pelosi: Dems' budget offer hinges on passage of clean continuing resolution

The Democrats' offer to remove procedural hurdles around 2014 budget talks hinges on the Republicans' willingness to vote on a clean government spending bill, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned Thursday. 

Republican leaders have refused all year to go to go to conference on the 2014 budget, but House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) indicated Thursday that Pelosi's recent offer to relinquish the minority's procedural options – dubbed motions to instruct – was a "good-faith effort" to launch those talks.

"We intend to go to conference on that," Ryan told reporters in the Capitol.

Not so fast, Pelosi warned several hours later.

"I said, 'We are here to offer the Speaker 200 votes to open government ... so that we can go to the budget table to negotiate,'" the House minority leader said during a press briefing in the Capitol. "And to clear that path we would be willing ... to surrender our prerogative to instruct conferees.

"It was two-fold," she clarified.

Ryan's remarks seem to accept the second half of Pelosi's equation without satisfying the first.

Instead, GOP leaders on Thursday outlined a new plan to extend the debt ceiling by six weeks without reopening the government until President Obama negotiates over funding – something the president has refused to do before the government reopens.

"He's not going to give anything in return for Congress doing its job," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday.

GOP leaders are huddling with Obama at the White House Thursday afternoon in an effort to break the 10-day-long impasse.

Pelosi said Thursday that Democrats can't comment on the Republicans' latest proposal for the simple reason that they haven't' seen it.

"Until we see what they have to offer, we can't tell you if we support it or not," she said. "They may not know what it is."

Yet Pelosi did rule out Democratic support for any provisions scaling back Obama's 2010 healthcare law. GOP leaders have tried repeatedly to defund, delay or derail all or parts of ObamaCare, and are vowing to continue that fight in the current fiscal fight.

"None of these suggestions is acceptable," Pelosi said.

The events of the last two weeks have shifted the politics of negotiation on their head. Facing a conservative revolt that threatened his speakership, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed in January not to negotiate with Obama on budget issues – a position he amplified as recently as last month.

“I’m not doing that,” Boehner told reporters on Sept. 19.

Eleven days later, with roughly one hour left before a government shutdown, GOP leaders abruptly reversed course, calling for midnight negotiations on the House and Senate stopgap spending proposals, and blasting Obama and the Democrats for refusing to come to the table to keep the government open.

The shift has exasperated Democrats, who have been calling since March for Republicans to negotiate a 2014 budget bill, only to be dismissed by GOP leaders.

Boehner in April said his decision not to negotiate was based largely on his concern that Democrats would use motions to instruct to lob "politically motivated bombs ... on the House floor."

Pelosi said Thursday that she welcomes a budget conference, even if it comes months past due.

"I'm exhilarated by the prospect of a public debate over the budget at the budget conference table that shows the contrast, and maybe finds the compromises [between the parties' priorities]," she said.