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White House Rejects House Offer; Hope for Fiscal Deal Now Lies in Senate

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Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, told House Republicans no deal had been reached with the White House.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

House Republicans threw up their hands in frustration Saturday, saying communication has broken down with President Obama in the effort to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis and the government shutdown.

Resigned that hope for White House negotiations now lies with the Senate, some House Republicans even left Washington for the rest of the weekend.

 

"Basically, there is no deal with the House. This is all now with the Senate," said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.

King said that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, delivered that message during a closed-door House GOP meeting Saturday morning. "He said he hopes the Senate stands firm—whatever that means," King said.

Many House Republicans were openly angry following Saturday morning's meeting. They accused the White House of not only misleading House Republicans, but of pitting House and Senate Republicans against one another.

 

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., who also said the most recent House Republican offer had fallen through, described it as "a short-term debt limit extension with a budget process, and specific negotiations on reopening the government."

But Obama informed Boehner last night that he wasn't interested.

In the Senate, talks are in the hands of Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "At the end of the day, what we all are supporting is the effort that's under way between Senator McConnell and Reid," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

In the House, many of the Republicans leaving the Saturday meeting said they were angry or disappointed, but many also remained hopeful a deal can be worked out, at least to temporarily extend the nation's ability to borrow, by early next week. The administration has given Oct. 17—this Thursday—as the deadline for Congress to act before the United States defaults on its debt.

 

The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote Saturday afternoon on legislation that would lift the debt limit through the end of 2014 without any conditions. The measure is expected to fail, as Senate Republicans plan to block it and continue negotiating with the White House on another approach to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling in exchange for an array of policy concessions.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of 175 House conservatives, said he could not predict whether the House GOP would back any deal put together in part by Senate Republicans. "I haven't seen any plan out of the Senate or the White House that starts addressing our problems," Scalise said.

Leaving the meeting, many rank-and-file Republicans directed their ire at the White House rather than Boehner, who lawmakers in attendance said flashed obvious irritation with Senate Republicans during Saturday's meeting.

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"The challenge that we have here, very simply, is that the Republicans have control of the House, the Democrats have control of the Senate, the White House and the media," said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. "The equation there is very asymmetric one for House leadership."

"I'm convinced that, given that equation, that we're doing the best we can," Franks said. "And there's a fifth issue—and that [is] we're dealing with a president who unfortunately doesn't hold himself … to the truth or his own word. That's my conviction."

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said, "I haven't been more proud of my leadership than I've been over the last three weeks. I think they're holding strong and they feel that the Senate Republicans are undermining their negotiations."

Said Price: "I'm just astounded that the president can't take yes for an answer. It really is remarkable that he refuses to accept basically what was his offer initially. So we'll see. Hopefully he'll wake up this morning a little smarter and a little more observant of what has actually been proposed."

Meanwhile, others said they were going home to their districts until the House is scheduled to return to session on Monday, subject to a callback from House leaders.

"I have not seen my 2-year-old for two weeks," said freshman Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla.

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