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Uncertain Outcome After Obama Talks With House Republicans


Talks Thursday between President Barack Obama and the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, about a Republican proposal to temporarily increase the $16.7 trillion U.S. debt limit, have had an uncertain outcome. While no breakthrough was achieved, both sides say talks will continue.

Boehner and 19 other House Republicans left the White House without speaking to waiting reporters.

Back on Capitol Hill, House Republican leaders then went into meetings. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called the meeting with Obama "very useful" and "clarifying."

"Our teams are going to be talking further tonight; we will have more discussion. We will come back to have more discussion; the president said he would go and consult with administration folks and hopefully we can see a way forward after that," said Cantor.

After Cantor spoke, a written statement from Speaker Boehner called the talks "useful and productive". It said both sides agreed that communication should continue throughout the night, adding House Republicans remain committed to good faith negotiations.

A White House statement said Obama had a "good meeting" with House Republicans. The statement, however, said that "after a discussion about potential paths forward, no specific determination was made."

The statement said Obama looks forward to making continued progress with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and his goal remains "to ensure we pay the bills we’ve incurred, reopen the government and get back to the business of growing the economy, creating jobs and strengthening the middle class."

There was no immediate indication of any breakthrough in ending the impasse over either the partial government shutdown, which passed its 10th day, or on the debt limit.

Earlier, House Republicans proposed a six-week extension of the nation's borrowing limit, saying this would open the way for "good faith negotiations" on broader budget issues.

"I would hope that the president would look at this as an opportunity and as a good faith effort on our part to move halfway, halfway to what he has demanded, in order to have these conversations begin," said Boehner.

President Obama and Democrats insist that any wider negotiations could happen only after the government reopens, saying Americans should not be held hostage to extreme political demands, such as changes in the new health care reform law.

Press secretary Jay Carney said Obama would likely sign a bill to temporarily increase the borrowing limit, but wanted to see what legislation Boehner would bring to a vote.

"If a clean debt limit bill is passed he would likely sign it. Again, we would have to see it. We're speaking about a bill that does not at this point exist and it’s not at all clear, based on what the Speaker said, that that's what we're going to see," said Carney.

Senate Democrats also met with Obama. Majority Leader Harry Reid said Republicans must allow the federal government to reopen before any negotiations.

"Open the government, let us pay our bills, we will negotiate with you about anything," said Reid.

Obama is scheduled to meet with Senate Republicans on Friday.

Public opinion polls show Americans are increasingly frustrated with the ongoing partial government shutdown and the battle over the borrowing limit, which Congress must raise by October 17.

Satisfaction with Congress is at an all time low. Republicans, including conservative Tea Party members, are taking most of the blame for the standoff over the debt limit.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll found 53 percent of respondents blame Republicans for the government shutdown, while 31 percent blame Obama. The poll found the public divided over Obama's refusal to negotiate with Republicans unless they allow the government to reopen.

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