No Political Compromise Keeps Most Federal Offices Closed

This is Day 7 of the partial government shutdown, and there does not appear to be a resolution in sight. Why are the two sides so dug in?

Copyright © 2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And with some perspective on why the two sides are so dug in, and what options Speaker Boehner and President Obama may be weighing, we turn as we do most Mondays to Cokie Roberts. Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi. How are you, Renee?

MONTAGNE: And Cokie, given what Tamara just reported, that a small but very key group of Republicans are unlikely to go along with a possible solution to the next crisis that's looming - that's a possible default on the national debt - what does Speaker Boehner do?

ROBERTS: Well, it's not clear. He probably punts, tries to get something short term done while negotiating on the long term. The problem, of course, is right now the president says he won't negotiate. I talked to a senior White House official over the weekend and he says Congress has to do its core curriculum, which is just fund the government, pay its bills, and then we'll negotiate.

And the Democrats are challenging Boehner to just put a clean funding bill on the floor and see if it will pass. Boehner says it won't, that he must have a conversation with the president, so the stalemate continues.

MONTAGNE: And this hard line from Speaker Boehner is one that some of his friends say he is not particularly happy about, but he is doing it to placate his Tea Party members. But I'm wondering, is this all about maintaining this job as Speaker?

ROBERTS: No. I think - certainly that's some of it, and as you just heard Norm Ornstein saying in Tamara's piece, you know, if he's not speaker, then it goes to one of the people in the Tea Party who deposes him, and other members of the party, as well as Speaker Boehner, can say that's not good for the party and it's not good for the country by their lights.

Look, he's trying to keep the House Republican, and this is about maintaining that majority. If the House is not in Republican hands, then none of the government is in Republican hands, and so it is a matter of keeping all the Republicans happy and winning. Now, you know, there's a lot of argument about how to do that best and you should hear the incredible hear the incredible anger on the subject of Senator Tom Cruz from Texas.

You know, Republicans, mainstream Republicans are quite angry with him, but they're picking and choosing their battles, and so they're hoping that maybe that at some point they can actually make a deal with the president.

MONTAGNE: You know, and something curious, when Speaker Boehner was on ABC yesterday, he did not talk about the Affordable Care Act. He seemed to be trying to shift the conversation to one about reforms on programs like Social Security and Medicare, and that's something that has come up.

ROBERTS: Yeah, I found that very interesting because, look, they know in their heart of hearts that the president is not going to negotiate on Obamacare. You know, this is his signature achievement, and so that's not going to happen. But so the speaker yesterday started talking about the retirement of the baby boom and how expensive that's going to be and how that really does add to the debt, so that when you're talking about the debt ceiling, that that is a place to negotiate.

The problem there is that the president insists that revenues be on the table and the speaker insisted yesterday again that revenues would not be on the table. So right now nobody is in a position where they're showing some light here. The speaker said there might be a back room someplace, but nobody's in it. Now, there is some hope that the budget chairmen of each house are meeting, but it is really, right now, still very, very, very stalemated.

MONTAGNE: Cokie, thanks very much. NPR's Cokie Roberts.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: