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In one week, the Treasury will run out of cash to pay its bills if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling. House Republicans are now offering a six-week extension of federal borrowing to avoid that scenario.
But what about the government shutdown – the consequence of inaction on federal spending and bitter partisan warfare over Obamacare that has gripped the nation since last Tuesday and shows no sign of ending?
There are reportedly enough votes to pass a “clean” funding bill to refill federal coffers – one that would not include big Republican demands that the president’s signature healthcare initiative be defunded or delayed.
In an op-ed for USA Today, Republican Rep. James Lankford wrote, "Republicans have asked for two things on Obamacare and one thing on the debt ceiling." Lankford did not mention defunding Obamacare.
"That's currently off the table now," Lankford said in an interview on "The Lead with Jake Tapper," referring specifically to the debt ceiling deal.
"That's obviously not going to happen at this point," said Lankford, adding that Republicans are instead asking for a one-year delay of penalties if people fail to sign up for health care.
The last time the United States came close to defaulting on its debt obligations, the stock market fell 17%, household wealth fell $2 trillion, and retirement assets fell $800 billion, according to the Treasury Department.
Despite those disastrous effects from just two years ago, Congress is again at an impasse.
“The House and the Senate have not worked together to be able to resolve a budget, have not been able to plan. There have been zero appropriations bills done by the Senate. There has been only four done by the House,” said Lankford.
“We are not able to get the normal process to get all of our budget together so now we're stuck with this very bad process of cramming it all together at the end of the year before a continuing resolution or around a debt ceiling,” said Lankford.
This process is the second - maybe even the third-best way to approach the debt ceiling problem, said Lankford.
“The best thing that we can do is do the normal appropriations process and get this resolved. Since we don't have the normal appropriations process working, we have to do it like this,” said Lankford.
The Associated Press puts the public's approval rating for Congress at 5%; Gallup puts Republican favorability at 28%.
As someone who wants House Republicans to keep their majority pick up the Senate in 2014, and win the presidency in 2016, these numbers bother Lankford.
“It's painful for all of us. While everyone wants to look and say who's to blame and that's a good game to do on it, ultimately everybody is mad at everybody,” said Lankford.
“We get that” approval ratings for Republicans are horrific, said Lankford. “The people in our districts, I can tell you, don't want to do a government shutdown, neither do we.”