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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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October 9th, 2013
06:29 PM ET

Durbin: Negotiations to re-open government, lift the debt ceiling are 'under way'

The U.S. is well into the ninth day of a government shutdown. House Republicans tied defunding or delaying Obamacare to the funding of the government, effectively leading to the shutdown.

But Republicans are saying – and it seems to have some resonance – that President Obama's message is: "I’m not negotiating." That's just not how this works. Republicans point out there have been previous negotiations over both opening the government and the debt ceiling.

Is the Democratic Party doing anything to acknowledge the reality of where the U.S. is, and trying to figure out a way to get out of it together?

"There are conversations under way as to what we will discuss, you know, what we will negotiate over, what things will be on the table. But what we said is – open the government, pay our bills and let's have this honest conversation," said Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, of Illinois, who serves as Senate Majority Whip.

What Durbin does not want to see is catastrophic tactics taken every time a major policy or debt ceiling negotiation fails.

"This is going to come over and over again. And if each time we lay off 800,000 federal workers, or end up interrupting the services of this government, or jeopardizing our international credit rating, it's disastrous for a great country like America," said Durbin.

"The president is trying to establish a standard of conduct that is reasonable and bipartisan and puts everything on the table. I think that's the way to approach it," said Durbin.

The Affordable Care Act was rolled last week, and there continue to be be problems getting onto the Web site, and signing up. There is a mandate that individuals must get health insurance by the end of the year, even if they can't get onto the website.

To some, it appears reasonable to delay the individual mandate given the fact that so many people are having trouble signing up online.

"We have 9 million people who’ve already tried to get online. I think the number is even higher," said Durbin

The law is based on the Massachusetts health care plan signed into law by then-Governor Mitt Romney. Durbin said he spoke with a surgeon from Boston about the glitches of so-called Romneycare, who told him there were problems in the beginning, but once they were smoothed out, "98% of Massachusetts residents now have health insurance."

"So, let's not let a few glitches at the beginning sour the ultimate goal of giving people who have never been able to afford health insurance, never had health insurance, this kind of protection, for the first time in their lives," said Durbin.

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