The Associated Press
Facing a fresh deadline, House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that Republicans would vote to extend the government’s ability to borrow money for six weeks — but only if President Barack Obama first agrees to new negotiations on spending cuts. Under the Republican plan, the partial government shutdown would continue in the meantime.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, following a 90 minute meeting with Obama, appeared to throw cold water on the plan. Asked whether Democrats would negotiate with Republicans with the government shuttered, he declared, “Not going to happen.”
Earlier, the White House had said Obama “would likely sign” a short term extension of the debt cap and did not rule out his doing so even if the government remained partly closed. But the White House made no promises that Obama would hold negotiations under those circumstances.
“He will not pay ransom in exchange for the Republicans in the House doing their job,” said spokesman Jay Carney.
Boehner and other House GOP leaders were headed to the White House late Thursday for their own meeting with Obama.
After weeks of decline, financial market indexes shot higher in anticipation of a possible deal that could avert a federal financial default. The Dow Jones industrial average surged 323 points for the day.
“I would hope the president would look at this as an opportunity and a good faith effort on our part to move halfway, halfway to what he’s demanded, in order to have these conversations begin,” Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters after presenting the plan to rank-and-file GOP lawmakers.
Boehner produced his proposal as the shutdown entered its 10th day. On that front, the administration said it would allow states to use their own money to reopen some national parks that have been closed.
Governors in at least four states — Utah, South Dakota, Arizona and Colorado — have asked for authority to reopen national parks within their borders because of the economic impact of the closures. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the government will consider offers to pay for park operations but will not surrender control of national parks to the states.
As for the deeper problem of the federal debt ceiling, the administration has warned that unless the limit is raised, the government will deplete its ability to borrow money by next Thursday, an event officials have warned could trigger a default that could wound the world economy as well as America’s .
Obama has steadfastly insisted that Congress reopen the government and extend the debt limit without conditions.
His acceptance of the GOP proposal could mean a brief resolution to the fight over the debt limit and a continuation of the shutdown while negotiations proceed.