WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday he sees no way out of the government shutdown unless President Barack Obama is willing to engage in negotiations with Republicans.
But Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew rejected that approach, saying Congress needs to quickly pass legislation re-opening the government and also a measure boosting the nation's $16.7 trillion debt limit. Lew said President Barack Obama has not changed his opposition to tying these measures to Republican demands on health care and spending cuts.
"What we've seen is ... 'Unless I get my way, you know, that we'll bring these terrible consequences of shutdown or default,' " Lew said Sunday on CBS. "Those kinds of threats have to stop."
Boehner and Lew in separate television interviews gave no hint of any compromise to end a budget impasse that has shut down part of the government since Tuesday and is running the risk of a first-ever default on the government's debt unless the current debt ceiling is raised by an Oct. 17 deadline.
Asked how the standoff might end, Boehner said Sunday on ABC that he was uncertain: "If I knew, I'd tell you."
The Ohio Republican added that Obama can call him any time to start negotiations to end the shutdown. "He knows what my phone number is," Boehner said.
In one promising development, a large chunk of the furloughed federal work force is headed back to the Pentagon, and those who remain at home or are working without paychecks are a step closer to getting back pay once the partial government shutdown ends. But a resolution to the impasse itself was nowhere in sight.
Lew said Sunday that Congress should act immediately to reopen the government because the votes are there to pass a temporary budget measure.
"There are no winners here," Lew said on NBC. "Every day the government is shut down does real harm to the American people."