Merging Spending and Debt Debates Means Shutdown Likely to Last 2 Weeks

Signs grew clearer today that the debates about reopening the government, raising the debt limit and setting spending levels for the next year are being rolled into one. And one unspoken consequence is that the partial shutdown, now in its third day, looks increasingly likely to stay in effect for the next two weeks – until the Treasury’s deadline for either gaining more borrowing authority or defaulting.

Senior congressional Republicans and Democrats are conceding it makes little policy or political sense to put much more effort into finding votes for a continuing resolution lasting only a few weeks, when the even more consequential debt ceiling must be confronted almost immediately after.

GOP conservatives still believe they can win concessions from President Barack Obama — on both entitlement curbs and curtailing Obamacare — as part of a double-barrel bargain on both spending and borrowing. The president forcefully rebutted that expectation this morning.

“Let me be clear: There will be no more negotiating,” he told a friendly crowd assembled at construction company in suburban Rockville, Md., echoing the message he delivered last night to the four top congressional leaders during a meeting in the Oval Office that seemed only to harden the standoff in all corners. His message to the GOP, the president said: “You don’t get a reward for keeping the government running, and you don’t get a reward for keeping the economy running.”

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