White House: Obama would 'likely' sign six-week debt ceiling hike
By Justin Sink - 10/10/13 01:38 PM ET
President Obama "would likely sign" a clean bill that raised the debt ceiling for six weeks, White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
But the White House reiterated that the president was not going to offer concessions "in return for Congress doing its job," further indication that Obama would not negotiate on the budget until the government was reopened.
Carney said it would be "unsustainably bad" policy to allow Republicans to use the shutdown as "leverage" to extract concessions, chiding GOP leaders for "punishing the American people."
"Republicans would think we can resolve all of our significant differences over the budget, and while we work that out, we should do sustained harm to the American people?" Carney said.
Despite that, Carney said Obama is happy cooler heads "seem to be prevailing in the House."
Carney said that while the president "strongly prefers a longer-term resolution" to the debt ceiling issue, he would be "willing" to sign a short-term extension with "no partisan strings attached."
But, the White House spokesman cautioned, "we don't know that's what we're going to get here."
Carney said Republicans had not yet presented their proposal, and the White House didn't know what final version would emerge from the House.
"We'll see what they're able to pass and consider it then," Carney said.
Still, the White House was encouraged that House Republicans had signaled a willingness to extend the debt ceiling and avert a possible default. The Treasury Department has estimated that the nation would run up against the debt ceiling by Oct. 17.
Carney said the Boehner proposal is evidence Republican leadership is "not listening to the debt limit and default deniers" who have suggested that the government would be able to avoid damaging its credit by prioritizing payments. He argued that, now that leaders have acknowledged hitting the debt ceiling would be problematic, they should accept a Senate bill that would raise the limit for a year.
"Why is there an insistence, or an implication, that you keep the nuclear weapon in your back pocket?" Carney said.
The president and congressional leaders have indicated in recent days a willingness to push forward with a short-term debt-ceiling limit.
During a press conference Tuesday, Obama said he'd "absolutely" sign a short-term increase.
And after meeting with the president Tuesday, leading House Democrats also indicated that they would be willing to support a short-term debt-ceiling hike.
Asked if House Democrats were willing to accept a short-term hike, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that "if the alternative is to renege, to default," then they would support it.
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said, "We're not going to vote against America paying its bills."
The president and House Republicans will have an opportunity to hash out the proposal in a meeting Thursday afternoon at the White House.