Negotiations on a broad budget deal are “not going to happen” before the government reopens, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday after a White House meeting.
Reid said Senate Democrats would be willing to “negotiate on anything,” but only after the government is reopened and the debt ceiling is hiked.
Obama will meet with a group of House Republicans later on Thursday who will present their offer for ending the fight over the debt ceiling.
GOP leaders are coalescing around a six-week debt-ceiling hike that they say would buy time for a longer negotiation over budget cuts.
But House Republicans so far are not open to ending the government shutdown, despite calls to do so from some of their members as well as Senate Republicans.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was encouraged by the House GOP offer and that Obama would likely sign a six-week debt-ceiling hike. But he hedged on whether Obama would agree to the longer-term budget negotiations if the shutdown continued.
In a statement after the meeting, the White House said Obama reaffirmed to the senators "that we will not allow them to hold the economy hostage to an extreme political agenda."
The White House also said that Obama and Senate Democrats "will continue to pursue reasonable discussions about our budget challenges," a signal they could be open to broader talks.
Reid said lawmakers want the shutdown ended, but did not categorically rule out the House GOP plan. Reid said the Senate would “look at anything” the House sends them, but that Republicans need to “decide what they want.”
He also took a swipe at the shifting House GOP strategy.
“The House has a unique form of legislating. It's hour by hour,” Reid said.