November 24, 2020

Lawmakers Renew Push to Reach Deal on Cutting Deficit

“We are working, and I’m confident there will be resolution,” Mr. Boehner told fellow House Republicans on an afternoon conference call, according to participants. “There has to be.”

Mr. Boehner’s comments came a little more than a week before the federal government risks defaulting on its debts, a fate that could be avoided if Congress agrees to increase the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

The speaker, who abruptly broke off budget talks with President Obama on Friday evening, said he hoped the plan could be finished within 24 hours. He said the savings would most likely be achieved in two stages and would meet Republican fiscal demands that have led to a Congressional cliffhanger on the debt limit.

He spoke with his colleagues after Congressional leaders met at the White House on Saturday morning at the request of Mr. Obama. The meeting broke up without resolution just before noon, after about an hour of discussion.

Lawmakers and top aides said privately that despite the White House session, the search for a solution was now focused on Capitol Hill, where senior advisers gathered Saturday afternoon to exchange ideas on a plan that could get the go-ahead from top members of Congress.

In a statement after the White House session, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, indicated that he and his leadership counterparts were trying to devise a fallback measure to assure the borrowing ceiling was raised in time.

“The president wanted to know that there was a plan for preventing national default. The bipartisan leadership in Congress is committed to working on new legislation that will prevent default while substantially reducing Washington spending,” Mr. McConnell said.

The White House, in its own statement, said that Mr. Obama reiterated his opposition to a short-term extension of the ceiling — he wants a level that would carry the Treasury through the 2012 elections — because it would hurt the economy, prompt rating agencies to downgrade the nation’s credit rating and drive up interest rates for all Americans.

“As the current situation makes clear, it would be irresponsible to put our country and economy at risk again in just a few short months with another battle over raising the debt ceiling,” the White House statement said.

Conversations were to continue through Saturday, the White House said. But Congressional aides said that talks between senior advisers to House and Senate leaders began Friday as soon as it became clear that negotiations between Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner had broken down, leaving Congress with no clear route to a debt limit increase and time running short.

The rancorous ending to the debt discussions on Friday means that leaders of the House and Senate now have only days to find a debt limit solution that has eluded them for months, gaming out ways to get a debt increase through a Republican-controlled House packed with conservatives demanding deep cuts and no new revenues.

They must do so in a way that calms markets that may be jittery after the halt in the talks just days before the Aug. 2 deadline. The drama played out in real time on television Friday night in extraordinary exchanges between Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner, who has told his colleagues that the House needs to begin moving by Monday to give the Senate time to act.

In his weekly address on Saturday, Mr. Obama urged Republicans to accept additional new revenues — a key sticking point in the negotiations — as a way to balance the cuts he described as substantial.

“We can come together for the good of the country and reach a compromise; we can strengthen our economy and leave for our children a more secure future,” he said. “Or we can issue insults and demands and ultimatums at each another, withdraw to our partisan corners, and achieve nothing.”

Republicans countered that the emphasis needed to be on cutting government spending.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=86f5fe73f35e487258d211d8baeb101e

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