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McKeon hopeful government can reopen as soon as this weekend

Posted: October 11, 2013 4:47 p.m.
Updated: October 11, 2013 4:47 p.m.

Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, during an August news conference in his Stevenson Ranch office. Signal photo by Dan Watson

SANTA CLARITA - Citing recent talks between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican Congressional leaders, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, said Friday he is hopeful the federal government can reopen as soon as Sunday or Monday, ending a shutdown about to head into its third week.

McKeon was one of the Republican leaders invited to meet with Obama Thursday to talk about a way to move past the impasse, which began Oct. 1 when congressional leaders were unable to come to an agreement on a continuing resolution to keep funding the government.

The longtime congressman said he believes Republican legislators will meet Saturday morning and hopefully pass legislation to reopen the government.

“There’s every reason to believe that we’ll get it done,” he said during a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon.
House-approved legislation to reopen the government would have to approved by both the Democrat-controlled Senate and Obama.

Though he declined to give specifics on any potential deal or what Republicans would ask for in return for reopening the government, McKeon said the party is unwilling to give in on its ideological beliefs, adding that federal spending has fallen in recent years.

“Knowing what’s right is not always the same to everybody, but we don’t want to give up on our principles,” he said.
Another looming issue is the nation’s debt ceiling, a number that caps the amount of debt the country can carry at one time.

The United States’ debt is expected to pass the current limit next week, but Republican leaders have said they would support a several-week extension of that number in exchange for substantive talks with Democratic leaders about reducing the nation’s debt.

Failing to reach an agreement to raise the debt ceiling could trigger a government default, which McKeon said could be disastrous.

“It would be a horrible week if that happens,” he said. “So I think we need to get this fixed.”

McKeon also said he is not worried about how the shutdown itself may have damaged his party’s public image, even as polls show Americans are more likely to blame Republicans than Democrats for the shutdown.

“Public opinions go up and down,” he said. “The important thing is getting the work done, and that’s what we’re working on.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama and House Speaker John Boehner spoke by phone Friday after reports that House Republicans offered to pass legislation to avert a default and end the 11-day government shutdown.

Their proposal to end the stalemate would include cuts in benefit programs and changes to Obama’s health care law.
McKeon said Obama indicated in their Thursday meeting that he was open to negotiating on certain aspects of that law, commonly referred to as Obamacare.

Carney told reporters Friday he won’t get into details of Obama and Boehner’s call. But he reiterated that Obama believes the debt ceiling should be lifted without ties to budget negotiations.

Carney said a short-term funding bill and debt limit increase are “the very least that Congress could do.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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