White House: Obama would 'likely' sign six-week debt ceiling hike

President Obama "would likely sign" a clean bill that raised the debt ceiling for six weeks, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday.

ADVERTISEMENT
House Republicans are slated to meet with President Obama later on Thursday, and will propose a six-week extension of the debt ceiling in exchange for a commitment to work on a broader budget deal. 

The GOP proposal would not open the govenrment, however, and Obama has said he will not offer concessions to the GOP unless it ends the 10-day government shutdown. 

Carney on Thursday dodged questions about whether Obama would refuse to negotiate with Repubicans if they hiked the debt ceiling but did not open the government. 

He said it would be "unsustainably bad" policy to allow Republicans to use the shutdown as "leverage" to extract concessions. 

"Republicans would think we can resolve all of our significant differences over the budget, and while we work that out, we should do sustained harm to the American people?" Carney said.

The White House has repeatedly said it does not want to set a precedent in this fight by agreeing to concessions under the threat of a shutdown. 

It's also not exactly clear what deal the GOP will offer Obama, including whether it will be a clean hike to the debt ceiling that demands no concessions from the White House. 

Carney said Obama wanted to see what the GOP was proposing. 

"We'll see what they're able to pass and consider it then," Carney said.


He dodged when asked if the president would accept one condition on the debt ceiling hike being discussed on Capitol Hill: a restriction prohibiting Treasury Secretary Jack Lew from taking so-called extraordinary measures that would allow the government to avoid default even beyond the six-week hike.

"We will wait to respond until we get the actual bill," Carney said. "House Republican leaders say a lot of things."

Republicans themselves are divided over whether to end the government shutdown, according to members who attended a House GOP conference meeting on Thursday where GOP leaders outlined their strategy. 


The GOP has taken a public-relations beating, and a Gallup poll on Wednesday found the party has only a 28 percent approval rating, a 10 percent drop since last month and the lowest rating Gallup has ever recorded for a political party. 

As a result, some Republicans are eager to end a government shutdown that has hurt both parties in Washington, but Republicans the most so far. 

Carney did say Obama was encouraged by the new proposal and that the president was happy cooler heads "seem to be prevailing in the House."

Carney said the Boehner proposal is evidence Republican leadership is "not listening to the debt limit and default deniers" who have suggested that the government would be able to avoid damaging its credit by prioritizing payments. He argued that, now that leaders have acknowledged hitting the debt ceiling would be problematic, they should accept a Senate bill that would raise the limit for a year.

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 hike, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that "if the alternative is to renege, to default," then they would support it.

Carney said that while the president "strongly prefers a longer-term resolution" to the debt ceiling issue, he would be "willing" to sign a short-term extension with "no partisan strings attached."

But, the White House spokesman cautioned, "we don't know that's what we're going to get here."

Updated at 2:48 p.m.