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Boehner: Obama, Republicans Hold 'Useful' Talks on Debt Limit

  • VOA News

There was movement Thursday on a possible deal to reopen the U.S. government and raise the debt ceiling so the United States does not run out of money to pay its bills.

President Barack Obama held separate meetings at the White House Thursday with top congressional Democrats and Republicans.

The White House said that while no specific decisions were made, the president looks forward to making continued progress with members from both parties.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner's office called the talks useful and productive and said meetings will continue throughout the night.

Earlier Thursday, House Republicans offered a six-week increase in the debt limit. The current debt ceiling expires October 17.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president is encouraged that, in Carney's words, "cooler heads seem to be prevailing in the House." The president has said letting the United States default on its debts would be a catastrophe for the global economy.

News of a possible debt ceiling deal sent U.S. markets soaring. The three major stock indexes rose more than 2 percent Thursday.

Boehner has been insisting on linking negotiations on spending cuts to any bill raising the debt ceiling. He also has demanded talks on the president's health care program before letting the House vote on reopening the government.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has said there will be no negotiations until the government is reopened, and claims the nearly two-week-old shutdown has caused pain and suffering across the country.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told a Senate panel that it would be a "grave mistake" to fail to increase the debt ceiling by the October 17 deadline.

"The United States should not be put in a position of making such perilous choices for our economy and our citizens. There is no way of knowing the irrevocable damage such an approach would have on our economy and financial markets," continued Lew.

He said if the debt ceiling is not raised, the Treasury would only have about $30 billion on hand and some incoming revenue, but not enough to pay all its bills.
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