House Speaker John A. Boehner said Tuesday that the president is calling for Republicans to surrender entirely before any negotiations take place — something the GOP says is not an option.
The Ohio Republican said instead that talks should begin immediately to solve both short-term budget and long-term spending problems.
“The long and short of it is there’s going to be a negotiation here. We can’t raise the debt ceiling without doing something about what’s driving us to borrow more money and to live beyond our means,” he told reporters. “This isn’t about me and frankly, it’s not about Republicans. This is about saving the future for our kids and our grandkids, and the only way this is going to happen is to in fact have a conversation.”
With the government shutdown for the eighth day, both sides are refusing to budge. President Obama and Mr. Boehner spoke by phone early on Tuesday in what Mr. Boehner called a “pleasant” phone conversation, though no solution was reached.
“What the president said today is, if there’s unconditional surrender by Republicans, he’ll sit down and talk with us,” Mr. Boehner said. “That’s not the way our government works.”
At a time when everything in Washington seems to divide along party lines, Mr. Boehner can find common ground with President Obama on preventing the country from defaulting on its debt.
“When it comes to the debt limit, I agree with the president that we should pay our bills,” he said. “I didn’t come here to shut down the government and I certainly didn’t come here to default on our debt.”