- The Washington Times - Monday, December 16, 2013

With the threat of a government shutdown off the table for the next two years, attention now has turned to another looming fight over the nation’s debt ceiling — and the White House has no interest in negotiating with Republicans as that limit approaches.

“The president’s position has not changed,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday, reiterating the administration’s standing position that it will not negotiate with the House GOP over the debt ceiling.

A budget deal reached by Rep. Paul Ryan, chair of the House Budget Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray, who leads the Senate Budget Committee, sets federal spending for the next two years. It eliminates the possibility of another government shutdown such as the one seen in October.

But the agreement doesn’t deal with the debt ceiling. The deal to end the October shutdown suspended the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, but analysts say the U.S. could hit its debt limit as soon as March.

That gives the administration and lawmakers about three months to reach an agreement to raise the ceiling, and Mr. Ryan and other Republicans have indicated they’ll be looking for concessions in exchange for an increase.

“We’re going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt limit fight,” Mr. Ryan said on Sunday.

Despite those words, the administration appears to be banking on the fact that Republicans won’t take the political risk of a debt default in exchange for further spending cuts or other aims.

“We do not expect Republicans to walk that path again, precisely because it proved to be so disastrous for them politically and, more importantly, for the economy and the middle class when they went down that path in October,” Mr. Carney said.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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