White House says Obama could agree to short-term debt-limit hike

White House says Obama could agree to short-term debt-limit hike

President Obama could agree to a short-term hike of the debt ceiling only if there are concrete plans in place to move quickly with a grand bargain, the White House said Wednesday.

White House press secretary Jay Carney stressed that Obama is opposed to temporary increases to the U.S. borrowing limit, but he opened the door a crack, saying that Obama could agree to something short-term in order to give lawmakers time to finalize a deficit-reduction plan like the one unveiled by the bipartisan Senate Gang of Six.

"The president does not support a short-term extension of the debt limit, period," Carney said. "The only exception to that is in the event that both sides reach a deal on a long-term extension of the debt limit plus significant deficit reduction, and we needed a very short-term extension, like a few days, to allow a bit of extra time for a bill to work its way through the legislative process."

The Gang of Six offered a $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction package that won quick bipartisan support in the Senate, but even members of the group said it is doubtful the plan could be scored and translated into legislative language by the Aug. 2 deadline for raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

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Carney acknowledged “overwhelming odds,” but insisted it was still possible move a big deal through Congress before Aug. 2.

“There is still time to do something significant, especially if all the parties are willing to compromise,” Carney said.

He added: “I'm not laying bets that it’s going to happen. But it would be a failure of leadership not to try just because the odds are overwhelmingly against it.”

Obama was set to meet with Democratic leaders from the Senate and House at the White House on Wednesday afternoon.

Carney announced on Twitter that Obama will meet with Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTrump's pick for Federal Reserve chief is right choice at right time The two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery One year later, neither party can get past last year's election MORE (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorIf we want to make immigration great again, let's make it bipartisan Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling to retire after end of current term MORE (R-Va.) at 5 p.m.

Tuesday night, after the House GOP's “cut, cap and balance” budget plan passed, Obama spoke by telephone with Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidVirginia was a wave election, but without real change, the tide will turn again Top Lobbyists 2017: Grass roots Boehner confronted Reid after criticism from Senate floor MORE (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock McConnell PAC demands Moore return its money Klobuchar taking over Franken's sexual assault bill MORE (R-Ky.), John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTrump's pick for Federal Reserve chief is right choice at right time The two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery One year later, neither party can get past last year's election MORE and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Carney said that Obama was “immensely enthusiastic” about the possibility of the Gang of Six's plan going forward.

But Carney said the president continues to be supportive of Reid and McConnell's efforts to craft a back-up plan to ensure that the U.S. does not default.

The Gang's plan has been more cooly received by House Republicans. It has also been criticized from the left by Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDe Blasio headed to Iowa to speak at political fundraiser Yes, spills happen — but pipelines are still the safest way to move oil Why sexual harassment discussions include lawmakers talking about Bill Clinton’s past MORE (I-Vt.) and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.


—This story was first posted at 2:12 p.m. and updated at 3:06 p.m.