House Offer Edges Towards Budget Negotiations
(WASHINGTON) -- On the eleventh day of the government shutdown, House Republicans have presented a proposal to President Obama that temporarily suspends the debt limit, but does not provide funding needed to reopen the government. That may not be enough to convince President Obama to begin deficit reduction negotiations.
The White House has insisted that in order to begin bipartisan negotiations over deficit reduction, Congress not only raise the debt ceiling but also reopen the government.
“As we have publicly stated, any House vote on a short-term debt limit bill is contingent on the White House and House Republicans agreeing to negotiations on a larger fiscal framework,” House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel wrote in an email. “There is no agreement at this point on what that framework would involve, and we don’t plan to comment on the details of these discussions.”
A House GOP leadership aide, however, remained adamant that “any framework on a larger agreement (to reopen government) must include the real drivers of our debt and deficits, including the President’s health care law.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor would not elaborate on the GOP’s framework, said to be outlined by senior Republican aides for administration officials late Thursday night. But with President Obama meeting with Senate Republicans Friday, Cantor said House Republicans are waiting to hear back from the president before deciding how to proceed.
“We’re trying to stay focused on the talks that occurred last night. Again, we’re waiting to hear back,” Cantor said. “All of us are trying to get to a point where there is a two-way negotiations that effects an outcome and resolves some of the differences that we’ve been talking about for the last 11 days.”
House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, who was the Republican co-chair of the failed Supercommittee, left the Speaker’s office Thursday night, telling reporters he has “high hopes,” but “low expectations” that a deal will be reached to reopen the government by Monday.
“My hopes relatively speaking are a little higher today after the [White House] meeting. It was a long meeting to achieve a little bit of understanding,” Hensarling, R-Texas, said. “Understanding is kind of a prerequisite to gaining the minimal level of trust necessary to begin negotiations, but negotiations is where we’re talking about actual issues that could be part of a broader agreement. I don’t think we’re there yet.”
Hensarling said that House Republicans “felt like we were being asked to rubber stamp the president’s spending plan and his borrowing plan, which we were not willing to do.”
“We felt like we are meeting him half way by offering a temporary agreement on the debt ceiling, and again, we did not hear the word yes but we did not hear the word no,” he said. “It took a long time for both sides to have an understanding of what potentially could happen through these agreements. I think hopefully everybody knows what could happen if there’s not an agreement, and so discussions will continue on and at this point it is inconclusive.”
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