Likewise, there are huge differences between the two chambers over the farm bill. House and Senate members are poised begin work in a conference committee as early as next week to reconcile differences in farm legislation that each chamber passed.
The House bill contains nearly $40 billion in cuts over 10 years in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as the food stamps program. The program serves about 48 million low-income Americans. The House bill would cause about 3 million people to lose benefits.
The Senate bill, by contrast, seeks to cut only $4.5 billion in spending from food stamps. The House-Senate conference could be a raucous affair, with personalities like conservative Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and blunt Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The White House celebrated the opening of the government Thursday. Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, greeted returning employees at the White House, and Vice President Joe Biden delivered muffins and shook hands at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in downtown Washington.
But Press Secretary Jay Carney wouldn’t say that Obama had won the fight, though he succeeded in getting the government reopened and the debt ceiling lifted with little change to the health care law.
“If that is winning, it is not worth winning,” Carney said of the shutdown. “The harm that is done to the American people, the harm that’s done to the American economy, he does not want that.”
Carney didn’t say whether Obama believed his own governing style needed work as well, but he said Obama would continue to hold meetings and dinners with lawmakers, noting that the president “began his second term embracing the idea that more direct engagement with lawmakers of both parties was worth the effort.”
David Lightman and Franco Ordonez of the Washington Bureau contributed to this report.