House Republicans see no end in sight to the government shutdown even as the GOP shifts away from defunding ObamaCare.
A White House meeting Wednesday evening with President Obama and congressional leaders ended with little sign of compromise or give on either side.
“Two weeks,” a GOP lawmaker told The Hill.
“At least a week,” Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) predicted.
“Until the debt ceiling is hit,” Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-Calif.) said, noting that the administration could move the date up, instead of leaving it at the projected Oct. 17 marker.
A growing number of centrist GOP lawmakers are advocating for an immediate end to the government shutdown. They want to to pass a clean Senate-passed funding bill that would last until Nov. 16.
One of them, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), said the shutdown could go on "for several weeks."
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who has been critical of his leadership's decision to follow the conservatives insistence to defund ObamaCare, said that his side has to stick together. "I think the leadership is committed to play the Cruz strategy all the way out," Nunes said, referring to the band of conservatives who forced the leaders to fight the ObamaCare front as "lemmings on fire."
But Republicans, including those same conservatives, attempted to shift the conversation away from defunding ObamaCare to larger items such as entitlement spending and tax reform.
Stutzman, the first lawmaker to state he wouldn't vote for a continuing resolution without a provision to defund ObamaCare, said the conservative Republican Study Committee met Wednesday and approved their leadership's decision to move piecemeal bills.
Stutzman added that those same conservatives essentially stopped talking as much about ObamaCare and have moved on to broader economic matters.
"It's not just about the Affordable Care Act anymore, it's bigger than that, it was about that going in, but [Obama] has made it about bigger stuff ... government altogether ... are bills that we're putting on the floor. We feel very strongly about them ... the Affordable Care Act is moving forward."
House GOP lawmakers told The Hill that they plan to be in town and work every day until the government reopens, suggesting the lower chamber will be active over the weekend.
As for Obama's role, at least one lawmaker considers the president "non-essential," telling reporters that Obama should take a planned trip to Asia next week.
Asked whether it was appropriate for Obama to head to Asia if the government remained shutdown, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said, “What do we need him for?”
“I think he's nonessential personnel myself because if he won't negotiate, what do we need him for? He wants to golf, let's be honest,” the California Republican said to a gaggle of reporters on Wednesday.
Bob Cusack contributed.