Speaker Boehner: Debt-ceiling deal with tax increases ‘cannot pass’ the House

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Friday said President Obama "must lead" if the standoff over the debt limit is going to be resolved but warned that any package with tax increases "cannot pass the House."

Boehner’s statement came the day after Republicans pulled out of the debt talks led by Vice President Biden, effectively leaving it to the Speaker and the president to break the impasse over increasing the debt. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said he withdrew from the Biden talks because Democrats refused to drop their demands for tax increases. 

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Boehner listed three elements that he said are non-negotiable in any package to raise the $14.3 trillion borrowing limit. Any deal must include budget reforms, spending cuts that are larger than the debt-limit increase and must not include tax hikes, he said.

An increase to the debt limit will only happen "via a measure that meets those tests," Boehner said in a statement.

"If the president puts forth such a proposal, he has my word that the House will act on it," Boehner said. "But a measure that fails to meet these tests cannot pass the House."

“If the president wants this done, he must lead,” Boehner said.  

Shortly after Boehner’s statement, the White House announced that Obama and Biden would hold separate meetings Monday with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to discuss a deficit-reduction package. 

The White House said the meetings are intended to "to find common ground on a balanced approach to deficit reduction." The statement did not say whether Obama is planning to meet with Boehner next week as well.

McConnell said he hopes the summit will shed light on what Obama wants the debt deal to look like.  

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“It is my hope that the President requested this meeting in order to finally explain what it is that he’s prepared to do to solve our nation’s fiscal crisis," McConnell said in a statement. "He’s requested an increase in the debt ceiling, but hasn’t yet explained to the American people what, other than tax hikes, he’s prepared to do about the massive deficits we’ve seen during his administration. The president needs to decide between his goal of massive tax hikes, and a bipartisan plan to address our deficit. But he can’t have both.”

McConnell called on the president to rebuff Senate Democrats who want the deal to include stimulus measures for the economy.

“That’s not serious, and it is my hope that the president will take those off the table on Monday so that we can have a serious discussion about our country’s economic future,” McConnell said.

In a conference call with reporters, Democrats detailed the tax proposals that they said caused Cantor to leave the Biden talks. 

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House Budget Committee, said Democrats pushed to end oil-and-gas breaks and change the depreciation schedule for corporate jets. 

Van Hollen indicated there were other tax demands floated in the talks as part of a "menu" of options.

Reid on Thursday said that the departure of Cantor and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), from the Biden negotiations meant that finishing the deal would be up to the leaders in Congress and the White House.

“I think that now with what Kyl and Cantor have done, it’s in the hands of the Speaker and the president and sadly, probably me,” Reid said. 

Some suggested that Cantor’s abrupt exit from the talks was intended to ensure that Boehner would be the one to sign off on a debt limit-increase that included tax increases. But Boehner said the House’s position on tax increases is firm.

"These are the realities of the situation," Boehner said. 

--This story was last updated at 1:36 p.m.