The White House said Thursday it was “willing to look at any proposal” to lift the debt ceiling but insisted President Obama would not engage in budget negotiations until the government reopens.
House Republicans are discussing a six-week extension of the debt ceiling to buy time for negotiating a broader budget deal. But that legislation would not reopen the government, and some Republican lawmakers have urged leadership to include some legislative priorities tied to the short-term extension.
A White House official reiterated Thursday that the president would only be willing to bargain on a broader budget package once the government shutdown ends.
The White House also insisted that the president would "not pay a ransom" and preferred a longer debt-ceiling extension.
"It is better for economic certainty for Congress to take the threat of default off the table for as long as possible, which is why we support the Senate Democrats’ efforts to raise the debt limit for a year with no extraneous political strings attached," the official said.
The White House did not explicitly threaten a veto of the Republican plan, the details of which are still emerging.
And the president and congressional Democrats have indicated in recent days a willingness to agree to a short-term debt-ceiling limit.
During a press conference Tuesday, Obama said he'd "absolutely" sign a short-term increase.
And after meeting with the president Tuesday, leading House Democrats also indicated that they would be willing to support a short-term debt ceiling hike.
Asked if House Democrats were willing to accept a short-term debt-ceiling hike, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that "if the alternative is to renege, to default," then they would support it.
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said, "We're not going to vote against America paying its bills."
The president and House Republicans will have an opportunity to hash out the proposal in a meeting Thursday afternoon at the White House.