Some progress emerged on the debt ceiling front Thursday when House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and the GOP leadership agreed put forward legislation to increase the debt limit for a short time. But discussions about the government shutdown -- in its tenth day -- will be left for later Thursday, when the leaders will visit the White House to talk with President Barack Obama.
Earlier this week, Obama went against the wishes of his Democratic allies and said he would accept a short-term debt ceiling solution. Senate Democrats prefer at least a year’s increase in the debt limit.
The president has said he will not negotiate on the debt limit. Now Boehner and his colleagues have at least met him halfway. The U.S. Treasury has said the debt limit increase needs to happen within a week -- by Oct. 17.
“We’re hopeful that this is the beginning of meaningful dialogue with the president,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chairwoman of the House Republican Conference. She said the legislation “will allow us some time to continue this conversation because it’s time for solutions.”
The president is scheduled to meet the GOP leadership at the White House around 4:35 p.m. EDT to try and move beyond the impasse. Obama’s prior stance was that he would not negotiate with Republicans until they reopened the government and removed the threat of a U.S. default.
“We hope that the president will choose negotiation over crisis,” Rodgers said, “dialogue over silence.”
Reminding Obama of his own words, Boehner said he, too, agrees that “Nobody gets everything they want.”
Congress has been in a logjam now for weeks as Republicans insisted on either defunding, delaying or dismantling parts of Obamacare. Democrats fought back against several efforts, passing a clean 2014 continuing resolution to appropriate funding for the government. However, Republicans ignored the clean bill, leading to the first federal shutdown in 17 years, and proposed piecemeal legislation that Senate Democrats and the president said were nonstarters.
Boehner called the six-week bill a “good faith effort to move halfway.”
“It’s time for leadership,” Boehner said after meeting with his conference Thursday morning. “It’s time for these negotiations and conversations to begin.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said “there is very little time left” and lawmakers cannot afford to waste any more of it.
Shortly before the GOP leadership revealed the short-term deal proposal, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke at a rally broadcast on C-Span, calling on Boehner to “Give us a vote, Mr. Speaker,” on a bill to reopen the government. Her pleas came amid chants of “We the people want a vote.” Her assumption is that enough House Republicans would join Democrats to produce a majority to end the shutdown.
Boehner said he thinks “the president wants to deal with Americans' pressing problems as much as we do.”