President Barack Obama on Monday signaled he would accept a short-term measure to fund the government and extend the debt ceiling while both parties negotiate some sort of structural framework that would address broader, long-term issues related to debt and federal spending.
Obama was asked by a reporter if he would be willing to sign off on a short-term measure to allow lawmakers enough time to “negotiate what the talks are going to look like so everybody is comfortable” before the country defaults on its debt, estimated by the Treasury Department on Oct. 17 unless the debt ceiling is raised.
“If they want to do that, reopen the government, extend the debt ceiling,” Obama said at a White House press conference. “If they can’t do it for a long time, do it for the period of time in which these negotiations are taking place. Why is it that we’ve got hundreds and thousands of people who aren’t working right now in order for what you just described to occur? It doesn’t make any sense.”
But Obama panned a Tuesday proposal by House Republicans that would seek to restart the supercommittee, a failed structure for debt talks Congress tried to execute in 2011, which ultimately led to automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. The president instead advocated for a return to regular order in the committee process, a move Republicans have blocked nearly 20 times.
Update: In a press conference shortly after the Obama spoke, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) characterized a short-term deal that would include raising the debt ceiling as “unconditional surrender.”
“What the president said today was if there’s unconditional surrender by Republicans, he will sit down and talk to us,” Boehner said. “That’s not the way our government works.”
Igor Bobic is the assistant editor of Talking Points Memo, helping oversee the site’s coverage of politics and policy in Washington. While originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor feels best at home on the beaches of Southern California. He can be reached at email@example.com.