As Shutdown Drags Past a Week, Western Mass. Dems Hold Firm

The partial government shutdown is in its 8th day, and in just over a week, the federal government will reach its borrowing limit. White House officials have said a short term deal to raise the debt ceiling is possible.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts agrees.

“A short term extension on the debt limit is better than defaulting, but that’s – quite frankly – not the idea we need to send a message to the financial markets here in the United States and around the world that we’re dependable,” McGovern says.

McGovern says he believes there are enough Republicans in the House who would join Democrats to pass a debt limit increase and a funding bill the president would sign. but he says it’s up to Speaker of the House John Boehner to call votes on both issues.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Richie Neal says he is not worried public opinion will turn against President Obama during the government shutdown.

The Springfield Democrat says the president is justified in resisting Republican calls for negotiations before passage of a government funding bill and an increase in the nation’s debt limit.

“I don’t think it’s so much that the president runs the risk of losing the [public relations] battle,” Neal says. “I think that what we want to make sure of is that we’re able to prevail in terms of the substantive battle. And I think that with the clock ticking on the debt ceiling, which is now slightly more than a week away, it strikes me that there’s an opportunity here for adult conversation to be engaged.”

Asked why Republican would give away that leverage, Neal says if short-term government funding and debt limit bills pass, it would still allow the Republicans some sway in future negotiations.

Neal also says that, given how fragile the U.S. economy is, now is not the time to pass any big budget-cutting measures.

New England Public Radio’s Henry Epp and Sam Hudzik reported and wrote this story,