Reid offers to talk tax reform if GOP ends federal shutdown
By Alexander Bolton - 10/02/13 01:32 PM ET
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) offered to open negotiations on tax reform Wednesday if Republicans agree to a clean resolution to reopen the government.
Reid sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pledging to appoint negotiators to a budget conference if House Republicans relent on a six-week funding stopgap.
The budget conference is something Democrats have long sought, however, and the proposal was quickly shot down by Boehner’s office.
Reid offered to include tax reform, which has bogged down in partisan politics this year, on the agenda. The letter suggested that Democrats would be willing to negotiate changes to ObamaCare as part of budget talks as well.
“I commit to name conferees to a budget conference, as soon as the government reopens,” Reid wrote. “This conference would be an appropriate place to have those discussions, where participants could raise whatever proposals — such as tax reform, health care, agriculture, and certainly discretionary spending like veterans, National Parks and NIH — they felt appropriate.”
Boehner’s office said Reid’s terms would give Democrats exactly what they want. “The entire government is shut down right now because Washington Democrats refuse to even talk about fairness for all Americans under ObamaCare,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said. “Offering to negotiate only after Democrats get everything they want is not much of an offer.”
Senate Democrats have repeatedly called for a budget conference, yet Reid’s letter framed it as a concession to end the government shutdown.
Senate Republican conservatives blocked 18 motions by Senate Democratic leaders to begin budget conference talks with the House earlier this year.
The House is expected to vote Wednesday on bills to fund specific parts of the government, including veterans benefits and the national parks. The White House has threatened to veto those measures.
Reid said he spoke with Boehner by telephone after he sent the letter. He declined to characterize Boehner’s reaction.