House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday he is willing to negotiate budget issues with President Barack Obama without any conditions.
"I'm not drawing any lines in the sand," the Ohio Republican told reporters.
Boehner spoke to reporters as the government's partial shutdown entered the eighth day. An even bigger financial crisis looms next week when the government reaches the limit of its authority to borrow money.
Shortly after, an aide to Boehner said that Obama called the speaker and reiterated that he won't negotiate on the shutdown or the debt ceiling.
Republicans have said they want changes to Obama's signature health care law in exchange for reopening the government. They have said they want spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit.
"All we're asking for is to sit down and have this conversation," Boehner said.
Democrats controlling the Senate are planning to try to pass a stand-alone measure to increase the government's borrowing cap, challenging Republicans to a filibuster showdown that could unnerve financial markets as the deadline to a first-ever default on U.S. obligations draws closer.
A spokesman said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could unveil the measure as early as Tuesday, setting the table for a test vote later in the week. The measure is expected to provide enough borrowing room to last beyond next year's election, which means it likely will permit $1 trillion or more in new borrowing above the current $16.7 trillion debt ceiling that the administration says will be hit on Oct. 17.
It's not clear whether Reid's gambit will work. Republicans are expected to oppose the measure if it doesn't contain budget cuts to make a dent in deficits. The question is whether Republicans will filibuster the measure.
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Until recently, debt limit increases have not been the target of filibusters; the first in memory came four years ago, when Democrats controlled the Senate with a filibuster-proof 60 votes.