Sen. Mike Johanns says he left a meeting between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans at the White House encouraged that the stalemate might be broken, the government shutdown ended and the debt ceiling raised.
“I feel more positive today than I have in the last couple of weeks that there will be a resolution,” Johanns tells Nebraska Radio Network.
“The encouraging thing is that the president is talking. He’s actually now visiting with all sides and offers are being made and proposals are being made,” Johanns says.
A disagreement, primarily between President Obama and House Republicans, kept Congress from approving a short-term spending resolution that would fund the federal government after the beginning of the new fiscal year, October 1st.
A tense situation has grown more tense in Washington as the nation moves ever closer to its borrowing capacity, the so-called debt ceiling.
Johanns says his fellow Republicans seem to share his optimism after leaving the meeting.
“The general feeling, I believe, as we left the room was optimism,” Johanns says. “The president’s finally talking. The president’s finally reviewing proposals. There are concrete proposals that are being made by the House and in the Senate. That brings optimism. People are encouraged that we can get from Point A to Point B. So, I think that’s encouraging.”
Two proposals seem to be floating in Washington, one in the House, the other in the Senate.
House Republicans have suggested they might agree to funding the federal government and raising the debt ceiling if the level of spending remains at sequestration levels, but the cuts shifted from automatic, across-the-board cuts, to entitlement reform. Other suggestions being proposed include elimination of the medical device tax, included in the federal healthcare law and widely unpopular in Congress.
Johanns sees promise in a proposal being put forth by Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, which would end the medical device tax, require verification of the eligibility of applicants for health care subsidies, and approval a continuing funding resolution that sticks with the sequestration funding levels.
AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Sen. Mike Johanns on the meeting today at the White House between President Obama and Senate Republicans. [7:30]