WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- The two fiscal disputes between Republicans and Democrats on funding the government and raising the debt ceiling might merge into one negotiation, while U.S. President Barack Obama should show willingness to negotiate with Republicans to break the impasse, a U.S. congressman said Thursday.
"The American public expect if two people have differences in government, they sit down and talk and resolve those differences," Andy Harris, a Republican lawmaker from the U.S. state of Maryland, told Xinhua in an interview on the third day of a partial federal government shutdown.
The U.S. federal government lurched into a shutdown after Congress failed to pass a funding bill by Monday's midnight deadline. Republicans in the House were demanding changes to Obama's signature health care law in exchange for funding the government, which the White House opposes.
Democrats in control of the Senate demanded a clean continuing resolution, or CR, to fund the federal government's operations without attaching conditions.
"The matter of fact is that we have sent many offers to the Senate. But the Senate sends back a message that they don't want to talk and they don't want to negotiate. The President says he doesn't want to talk and he doesn't want to negotiate. That's not the way the system works. We have to restore the system to discussions and negotiations which lead to compromise," he said.
A White House meeting between Obama and congressional leaders on Wednesday ended with little sign of progress toward ending the government shutdown. Obama restated his opposition to a negotiation, saying that he was not going to negotiate over the need for Congress to act to reopen the government or to raise the debt limit.
Democrats' starting point of a clean CR is not a compromise. Republicans' starting point is to tie a funding bill with changes to the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, without giving any special treatment for anyone, said the congressman.
The White House said in July that it would delay until 2015 the enforcement of a requirement for businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health care insurance or pay a penalty, a major setback for Obamacare partly due to resistance from U.S. business owners.
Starting Tuesday, Americans in different states without health insurance can start signing up on subsidized insurance exchanges sites, government-run marketplaces where consumers can access competing insurance plans from a host of companies.
As the reform's so-called "individual mandate" asks nearly every legal U.S. resident to get health coverage or pay a tax penalty, the open enrollment will last for six months. Republicans have demanded delaying the individual mandate for one year too.
Meanwhile, Washington faces another fiscal deadline as U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told Congress on Tuesday the federal government will reach its debt ceiling of 16.7 trillion U.S. dollars by Oct. 17, and failure to raise it would lead to a catastrophic default.
However, Republican lawmakers insisted that a debt ceiling increase should be tied with GOP policy priorities.
"It looks like they may be combined at this point," Harris said, adding that blending the two issues into one negotiation may be the way for the two parties to end the logjam.
Asked about whether Republicans will bear the brunt of shutdown blame from the public, he said "if the shutdown goes on and on, people realize the President isn't doing his job to make sure the government functions properly. Part of that job is negotiating with people who you disagree."
The nation can prioritize federal revenue to interest and principal of the national debt, just like the bill passed by two chambers of Congress and signed into law by Obama to ensure service members to get paid during the government shutdown, in a bid to guarantee the world that America can avoid a debt default crisis, he said.