President Barack Obama called Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday to urge a vote that would allow the federal government to borrow more money and avoid a potential devastating default. There were no signs that the exchange between Obama and Boehner led to progress in resolving differences over the government’s borrowing limit or a separate dispute over a spending bill that led to a partial shutdown of the government that began last week.
Obama planned a Tuesday afternoon press conference. The White House said Obama urged Boehner to allow a timely vote on the measure,”with no ideological strings attached.” The president said he was ”willing to negotiate with Republicans _ after the threat of government shutdown and default have been removed _ over policies that Republicans think would strengthen the country.”
Republicans have tried to defund the president’s health care overhaul law and want to delay or stop it as a condition for funding the government. They also want spending cuts as a condition for increasing the debt limit.
Democrats remain united in demanding that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives should agree to straightforward votes on ending the government shutdown and increasing the debt limit,without conditions.
Boehner’s office said Obama reiterated in the Tuesday morning call that he won’t negotiate on the government shutdown or raising the debt limit. The White House said Obama is willing to negotiate,on topics including his health care law,after the threats of government shutdown and default have been removed.
Boehner softened the tone of his rhetoric in remarks to the media Tuesday. He said he is willing to negotiate budget issues without conditions.”It is time for us to just sit down and resolve our differences,” he said,adding: ”There’s no boundaries here. There’s nothing on the table,there’s nothing off the table.”
The prospect of a default has potentially great consequences for the United States and the world. The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday lowered its global economic growth forecasts and warned that the U.S. would hurt the global economy if it fails to raise its borrowing limit. Senate Democrats geared up for a big showdown with Republicans by planning a vote this week to provide new borrowing,without new spending cuts Republicans want. Democrats could introduce the measure as early as Tuesday.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was preparing the measure to raise the debt ceiling that is expected to provide enough borrowing room to last beyond next year’s election. It was expected to permit $1 trillion or more in new borrowing above the current $16.7 trillion debt ceiling that the administration says will be hit on Oct. 17.
It’s unclear if Reid’s effort to raise the debt ceiling will work. Republicans are expected to oppose the measure if it doesn’t contain budget cuts to make a dent in the federal deficit. The question is whether Senate Republicans will use a legislative blocking maneuver known as a filibuster to prevent a final vote on Reid’s measure.
Republicans were sticking with a strategy of trying to pin the blame for the shutdown on Obama for refusing to negotiate.