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Obama, Republicans keep talking as government shutdown enters second weekend

Public overwhelmingly disapproves of Congress during shutdown 02:40

The past week began with Republicans and Democrats at an impasse over the government shutdown. No resolution has been reached yet, but at least the two parties have started talking - making them closer to a deal than they were a week ago.

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"We're obviously in a better place than we were a few days ago in terms of the constructive approach we've seen," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Friday.

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, spoke on the phone Friday afternoon after the latest Republican offer, a modified deal for a short-term debt limit hike that sets up a framework for negotiations on a bigger budget deal. Though Mr. Obama did not accept the offer, Carney said "the two of them agreed all sides need to keep talking on the issues here that ... have lead to the shutdown of the government and the situation that has put us on the precipice of potential default." A Boehner spokesman similarly said the two sides will keep talking, but provided scant details.

After hearing on Thursday the initial Republican offer to pass a no-strings-attached bill to raise the debt limit for just another six weeks, the president asked Republicans to end the shutdown as part of the deal. He also reiterated that ongoing budget negotiations could and would cover all potential GOP hot button subjects -- but only after the default and shutdown issues were resolved.

Carney said Friday that Mr. Obama "appreciates the constructive nature of the conversation and the proposal that House Republicans put forward." However, he added, "He has some concerns with it."

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"The president's position that we the United States should not, and the American people cannot, pay a ransom in exchange for Congress doing its job remains as true today as it has throughout this period," Carney continued.

Furthermore, he said, increasing the debt limit to extend the nation's borrowing authority for just another six weeks would leave the nation once again on the brink of default right around Thanksgiving and the significant holiday shopping season. "Our economy can't endure that kind of approach to resolving our budget differences."

If negotiations hold together, it will be a matter of both parties and chambers of Congress feeling out what everyone else's bottom line is. Here is an overview of what all sides want:

The White House

Mr. Obama has insisted that he'll talk to Republicans about any subject - as long as they pass legislation to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling without any policy conditions attached. Carney has described this as the Republicans demanding a "ransom" several times since the government shut down. But Mr. Obama is also likely to resist any major changes to the healthcare law since he sees it as having been affirmed by both the Supreme Court and the American people during the 2012 election. "Two of [Congress'] very basic jobs are passing a budget and making sure that America's paying its bills. They don't also get to say, 'You know, unless you give me what the voters rejected in the last election, I'm going to cause a recession.' That's not how it works," he said in a news conference this week. The administration has also indicated they would be open to a short-term measure that raised the debt ceiling but also paved the way for negotiations - if the government is reopened as well.

House Republicans

At the start of the shutdown, House Republicans were seeking to either defund or at least delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Then, they changed their strategy: they sought negotiations over the spending bill to reopen the government before they would pass anything, though it is expected they would still seek changes to the Obamacare. On the floor of the House earlier this week, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, "How can we tax people for not buying a product form a website that doesn't work?...This is why we need to sit down and have a conversation about the big challenges that face our country." In an attempt to put political pressure on Democrats, they have passed a series of bills that would allocate the funding to re-open parts of the government, like the national parks and cancer research. Most recently, the House Republican leadership put forward a plan to increase the debt-limit for six weeks with no strings attached and enter into negotiations. Mr. Obama didn't bite at that offer but the two sides kept talking. A modified proposal they presented Friday that also sets up a framework for negotiations on a bigger budget deal. That offer has not been accepted either, but the two sides are still talking.

Senate Democrats

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has kept his caucus marching in lockstep during the shutdown. He refuses to take up any Republican bill that doesn't reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling with no attached policy conditions, and he has berated Republicans for demanding negotiations to reopen the government when he has been asking for budget negotiations all year long. "Open the government, we'll get back to the so-called conversations he talks about, we'll get back to the negotiating table, work out our budget disagreements. We can even start talking about ways to make the Affordable Care Act better. Not worse but better. We can get back to the business of legislating. That's what our job has always been and should be," he said earlier this week. He has made a few exceptions, passing a bill that authorized continued pay for active-duty military and support staff, as well as a bill to ensure death benefits were paid to the families of soldiers who died during the shutdown. Reid and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., have introduced a bill that would lift the debt ceiling through the end of 2014.

Senate Republicans

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, helped spark the shutdown with a 21-hour floor speech last month that called for the defunding of the health-care law, which helped propel the House Republican demands. This angered many of his colleagues in the Senate, who saw Cruz as pushing a shutdown with no exit strategy. Now, many have rallied around a plan from Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who put forward a proposal that focuses on re-opening the government rather than raising the debt limit. Her plan would fund the government for six months, repeal the medical device tax (part of Obamacare) and give agencies greater flexibility to deal with across-the-board spending.

House Democrats

House Democrats have largely remained in lockstep with the president, insistingthat the Republicans pass a "clean" short-term spending bill to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling, although some Democrats have voted with Republicans to re-open parts of the government. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has thrown doubt on House Democratic support for a six-week debt-limit extension like the one House Republicans proposed earlier this week, sayingthat it didn't give the financial markets enough certainty. But she remains open to seeing what they put on the table. On Saturday, House Democrats will start signing a "discharge petition" that could force Boehner to put a clean spending bill on the floor.

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