Lawmakers are still at an impasse on how to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government, which has been shut down for a week now. House Republicans have tried to use the funding measure to defund and repeal parts of ObamaCare, but Senate Democrats have said the House needs to pass a “clean” CR without any riders.
Another fiscal problem quickly approaching is the debt ceiling, which the Department of Treasury has said needs to be raised by the end of the month or else the government will default on its obligations. Reid said he would introduce a bill later Tuesday that would be a "clean" debt-ceiling increase.
"I hope we will get Republican cooperation in advancing this legislation," Reid said. "I am optimistic that the Republicans are not going to hold the full-faith and credit of the United States hostage."
Reid has offered to hold a conference committee with House Republicans on any topic — including ObamaCare — as long as they pass “clean” measures to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. Republicans have accused Democrats of refusing to negotiate.
"When you have divided government, you have to talk to each other," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in response to Reid. "Talk to the Speaker because that’s how we resolve this crisis."
Reid said the fact that Democrats accepted Republicans’ $986 billion spending level shows Democrats have already compromised.
“For someone to suggest that we have not negotiated is just absolutely wrong,” Reid said. “To say we won’t negotiate is unfair … but you have to open the government.”
A spokesperson for Reid said the Nevada Democrat requested the live quorum call in order to “initiate an open conversation” about the fiscal problems.
“It’s time for us … to stand before the American people and publicly discuss the path forward,” Reid said.
Economists have warned that a government default would harm the U.S. economic recovery even more than the government shutdown already has.
It's unclear where the fight will go from here as each side becomes more entrenched.