House Speaker John Boehner made a bold claim on ABC's This Week Sunday morning: that there aren't enough votes between Democrats and moderate Republicans in Congress to pass a clean spending bill that would end the government shutdown. "There are not the votes in the House to pass a clean [continuing resolution]," the Ohio Republican told George Stephanopoulos. Most counts say there are enough Republicans who are against the shutdown that a bipartisan effort with the Democrats could send a clean bill to the Senate if Boehner allowed a vote to happen. Boehner says he won't do that until Democrats negotiate more. "The American people expect in Washington when we have a crisis like this, that the leaders will sit down and have a conversation," he said. "I told my members the other day -- there may be a back room somewhere, but there's nobody in it." But the Speaker insists he wasn't forced by Ted Cruz and friends into the Obamacare fight. If you hear him tell it, the fight over the shutdown was a team effort."I and my members decided that the threat of Obamacare and what was happening was so important that it was time for us to take a stand. And we took a stand," Boehner said. "I, working with my members, decided to do this in a unified way." Boehner explained that he thought the Obamacare battle wouldn't come until the debt ceiling vote, but "working with my members, they decided, let's do it now," he said. "And the fact is, this fight was going to come, one way or another. We’re in the fight. We don't want to shut the government down. We’ve passed bills to pay the troops. We passed bills to make sure the federal employees know that they're going to be paid throughout this." This fight, Boehner said, is House Republicans showing their concern for the America's future. "You've never seen a more dedicated group of people who are thoroughly concerned about the future of our country," he said. "It is time for us to stand and fight."
Moments after Boehner's appearance on This Week, Sen Chuck Schumer had a message for the speaker: prove it. Prove there aren't enough votes in the House to pass a clean spending bill by putting one to a vote this week. "Put it on the floor Monday or Tuesday," Schumer said. "I would bet there are the votes to pass it. We have just about every Democrat, 21 Republicans have publicly said they would. There are many more Republicans who have said that they privately would." The New York Senator called it a "friendly challenge" for Boehner. "So, Speaker Boehner, just vote," Schumer said. "Put it on the floor and let's see if you're right."
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Congress they're "playing with fire" right now by trying to extract concessions from Democrats with the debt ceiling, risking a government default. "I'm telling you that on the 17th, we run out of our ability to borrow, and Congress is playing with fire," he told State of the Union host Candy Crowley. "If they don't extend the debt limit, we have a very, very short window of time before those scenarios start to be played out," he said. "There is no option that prevents us from being in default if we don't have enough cash to pay our bills." Lew reiterated the White House position that the 14th amendment doesn't give the President authority to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally. (He also ruled out other more dramatic options. Sorry, mint the coin believers.) "The White House has spoken quite clearly to this," he said. "The president does not have the authority to take action in that kind of a way. The president consulted with his lawyers, and that's the conclusion that he's reached." Later, on CBS's Face the Nation, Lew challenged Boehner to let Congress vote on a clean spending bill. "Why doesn't he put it on the floor and give it a chance?," Lew asked, before reminiscing about the days when someone else was House Speaker. "I worked for Speaker (Tip) O' Neill who believed deeply the one thing he believed the American people won't tolerate is obstructionism. He put things on the floor, and sometimes he won and sometimes he lost. But that's the right thing to do."
Sen. Ted Cruz told CNN's State of the Union he can't wait for the government shutdown negotiations to roll into the debt ceiling negotiations. "We should look for ways to mitigate the harms from Obamacare," the Republican from Texas (by way of Canada). "The debt ceiling historically has been among the best leverage that Congress has to rein in the executive," he said. Cruz explained Republicans would look to fight the President over Obamacare and possibly financial reform, too. Republicans are planning to use the debt ceiling "for some significant structural plan to reduce government spending" and to "avoid new taxes," he said. In his mind, the President's plan to not let the country default on its loans is the crazy one. "The president's demand -- jack up the country's credit card with no limits and no constraints -- is not a reasonable one."