The White House said Tuesday that President Obama is blameless for the first government shutdown in 17 years.
Asked by a reporter whether Mr. Obama bears any responsibility for the shutdown that began at midnight Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney replied, “I’m not sure what you mean.”
“It is his responsibility to try to work with Congress in the spirit of compromise,” Mr. Carney said. “He certainly did not vote to shut the government down.”
The president on Tuesday began referring to the crisis as a “Republican shutdown.”
Mr. Carney noted that the president called Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, Monday afternoon for about 10 minutes. It was their first conversation in more than a week.
The president also “reached out” to Republican lawmakers earlier this year in a search for common ground on budget issues, such as taking Republican lawmakers to dinner at a swanky hotel in the District.
“He had very good conversations with a number of Republican senators,” Mr. Carney said. “The president has tried in serious ways to find compromise with Republicans.”
Mr. Obama, backed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have repeatedly said there can be no negotiations with Republicans on funding the government and the debt ceiling, calling such tactics terroristic and historically unprecedented.