Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered Wednesday to engage in negotiations over a long-term budget plan if House Speaker John Boehner allows the House of Representatives to vote on a government funding plan with no strings.
Boehner was not enthusiatic.
He and Reid spoke earlier Wednesday, and Reid described the conversation as "cordial."
In a letter to Boehner, Reid said "Before the House you have the Senate-passed measure to reopen the government. I propose that you allow this joint resolution to pass, reopening the government."
If that is permitted, Reid said, "I commit to name conferees to a budget conference as soon as the government reopens."
That conference, or negotiation, would "discuss the important fiscal issues facing our nation."
Reid said it would "an appropriate place to have those discussions, where participants can raise whatever proposals--such as tax reform, health care, agriculture and certainly discretionary spending like veterans, National parks, and NIH, they felt appropriate."
But Michael Steel, Boehner's spokesman, noted "The entire government is shut down right now because Washington Democrats refuse to even talk about fairness for all Americans over Obamacare.
"Offering to negotiate only after Democrats get everything they want is not much of an offer."