The White House says it remains confident that congressional leaders can come together and work out a way to raise the U.S. debt ceiling before an August 2 deadline. A top aide to President Obama spoke as Republicans controlling the House of Representatives struggled to gain the 216 votes needed to pass a measure that the White House and Democrats oppose.
The remarks by Chief of Staff, William Daley, in a CNN interview came as the Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner struggled to secure the votes needed to pass a measure opposed by the White House and congressional Democrats.
The legislation would cut government spending by $917 billion over 10 years, and require two separate votes to raise the debt ceiling before next year's general elections.
Democrats controlling the Senate have declared the measure dead on arrival there.
In the CNN interview, Daley said House passage of the Boehner legislation, and it's expected defeat in the Senate, would open a "whole new stage" in which House and Senate lawmakers could then come together to avoid a debt default.
Earlier, Press Secretary Jay Carney answered reporter's questions in the White House media briefing. "We continue to believe and remain optimistic that Congress will come to its senses, that cooler heads will prevail, and that a compromise will be achieved," Carney said.
Saying Congress needs to "get beyond voting on dead on arrival measures that aren't going to become law" Carney called the vote in the House of Representatives "political theater" with so few days left before the August 2 deadline.
Lawmakers engaged in fierce partisan debate over the Boehner legislation. Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer and Michigan Republican Dave Camp both used the word "reckless" to drive home their opposing points.
BLUMENAUER: This proposal that has been brought to us today can be characterized by three words: reckless, hypocritical, and abusive."
CAMP: "This reckless pattern of borrowing and spending has put our country on the road to bankruptcy. Washington needs to show the American people that we can deal with these challenges today and in the future."
In the wake of the fifth straight decline in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the White House has also been addressing concerns about the impact of continuing uncertainty on financial markets.
Noting this, Daley in his CNN interview said "real people are losing money" but added the White House is confident lawmakers will abide by their pledge to prevent a debt default by next Tuesday.
President Obama has not spoken publicly about the debt impasse since his nationally televised speech on Monday.
Asked whether Mr. Obama would call lawmakers back to the White House Carney said only that he had no scheduling announcements to make.