President Obama Tuesday again shot down the prospect of direct talks with congressional Republicans to end the standoff over the partial government shutdown and looming federal debt default, just minutes after GOP House Speaker John A. Boehner on Tuesday called on the president and Senate Democrats to sit down for negotiations as the only way the two sides can reach a deal.
Mr. Obama told Mr. Boehner over the telephone that he is still unwilling to negotiate until Congress acts to reopen the government and raise the federal debt ceiling.
The exchange signals that the two sides remain far apart as the federal government enters week two of the shutdown and creeps closer to the Oct. 17 deadline that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew set for Congress to raise the nation’s borrowing limit - or risk default.
Speaking at a morning press conference, Mr. Boehner told reporters that Mr. Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are “putting our country on a pretty dangerous path” by refusing to negotiate with the House GOP over government funding and the debt-limit.
“There has never been a president in our history that did not negotiate over the debt limit - never, not once,” the Ohio Republican said. “The way to resolve this is to sit down, have a conversation and resolve our differences.”
Mr. Obama, though, apparently brushed away the olive branch.
“Citing the Senate’s intention to pass a clean, yearlong extension of the debt limit this week, the president also pressed the speaker to allow a timely up-or-down vote in the House to raise the debt limit with no ideological strings attached,” the White House said.
The White House also revealed that Mr. Obama will make a statement in the press briefing room at 2 p.m. and will take questions from reporters.
“The president called the Speaker again today to reiterate that he won’t negotiate on a government funding bill or debt limit increase,” said Brendan Buck, a Boehner spokesman.
Since the shutdown started Oct. 1, both sides have dug in on their positions, leaving them at odds over how best to reopen the government for business and over what it will take to increase the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling.
Lawmakers now appear poised to wrap the fights over the shutdown and the debt limit into one.
For their part, Mr. Reid and Senate Democrats say they are willing to sit down to negotiate spending with House Republicans, but they are demanding that before that happens the House GOP must act on a stopgap spending measure that passed the Senate and would fund all operations of government and Obamacare through mid-November.