House Republicans, facing the ninth day of a government shutdown, appeared increasingly isolated on Wednesday from even their strongest backers, with business groups demanding the immediate reopening of the government and benefactors such as Koch Industries publicly distancing themselves from the shutdown fight.
Republican and Democratic leaders met at noon to try to find a way forward, both on reopening the government and on raising the federal debt limit before the Treasury exhausts its ability to borrow on Oct. 17. Leading Republicans in the House appeared to be trying to move the stalemate away from efforts to defund President Obama’s health care law to a broader discussion of fiscal policy.
In an opinion piece in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee, proposed negotiating a continuing resolution to reopen the government with a focus on changes to entitlement programs like Medicare and a reshaping of the federal tax code. He did not mention the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans had said must be defunded, delayed or damaged before the full government is to be reopened.
It was not clear whether conservative rank-and-file Republicans would go along with that redirection. But other voices usually allied with Republicans stepped up pleas for an end to the standoff. On Wednesday, the National Retail Federation joined other business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers in asking House Republicans to relent.
“We strongly support passage of both a continuing resolution to provide for funding of the federal government into the next fiscal year and a measure to raise the nation’s debt ceiling,” the group’s president, Matthew Shay said in a letter to Congress that highlighted economic indicators showing that the shutdown has already hurt consumer spending and depressed consumer confidence.
President Obama has planned a series of meetings with lawmakers. He is scheduled to meet this evening with House Democrats at the White House, and to meet separately later this week with House Republicans, Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats.
Meantime, Koch Industries accused Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, on Wednesday of spreading “false information” about the Koch brothers by suggesting they were behind the move to end financing for President Obama’s health care law and the partial shutdown of the federal government.