The White House feuded with Republican lawmakers Thursday over raising the nation’s borrowing limit and acknowledged that President Obama will be late again with his federal budget — indications that last month’s bipartisan budget and spending deals haven’t changed the fiscal dysfunction in Washington.
The White House warned congressional Republicans that failing to raise the debt limit — which is nearly $17 trillion — within two weeks would hurt the middle class and risk another government shutdown.
“This is something that is Congress’ responsibility and ought to be acted on without drama and without delay,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney, blaming Republicans for hurting the economy by forcing the shutdown in October and by waging similar debt-limit brinkmanship in 2011.
“Pursuing that path is always a bad idea and it is harmful particularly to the middle class in the United States,” Mr. Carney said. “And we wouldn’t expect that kind of action to be taken.”
An aide to Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said the House won’t agree to increase the borrowing limit without obtaining some concessions from the administration.
As part of a deal to reopen the government in October, lawmakers agreed to suspend the debt limit through Feb. 7. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Congress Wednesday that the debt ceiling must be raised before that date “to ensure orderly financing of the government.”
Mr. Carney said lawmakers should raise the debt ceiling “in a manner that in no way endangers or disrupts economic growth and job creation.”
Observers in both parties expressed relief in December when the administration reached a two-year budget deal with Congress, saying it would help the economy by providing businesses and investors with a sense of stability. But as the deadline approaches for raising the debt limit, both sides are engaging in familiar, combative rhetoric.
The sniping over the debt limit started after the White House revealed that Mr. Obama will deliver his fiscal 2015 spending plan March 4, one month late. By law, the president is to submit a budget on the first Monday in February.
Mr. Obama has met that deadline only once since taking office in 2009. Last year, he delivered his proposed budget April 8, more than two months late.
“Now that Congress has finished its work on this year’s appropriations, the administration is able to finalize next year’s budget,” said Steve Posner, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget. “We are moving to complete the budget as quickly as possible to help Congress return to regular order in the annual budget process.”
Rep. Diane Black, Tennessee Republican and a member of the House Budget Committee, criticized Mr. Obama for yet another delay.
“This is another sad reminder of just how unserious this president is about tackling our nation’s fiscal challenges, and I hope this does not signal a return to years past where Senate Democrats fail to pass a budget plan at all,” Mrs. Black said. “My House Republican colleagues and I will continue to lead the fight for fiscal discipline by working to pass a timely budget that addresses out-of-control Washington spending to secure our nation’s finances for future generations.”