By Justin Sink - 01/18/13 07:38 PM EST
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday that the president was "encouraged" by indications from congressional Republicans that they would vote next week to increase the debt-ceiling limit.
"We are encouraged that there are signs that Congressional Republicans may back off their insistence on holding our economy hostage to extract drastic cuts in Medicare, education and programs middle class families depend on," Carney said. "Congress must pay its bills and pass a clean debt-limit increase without further delay."
“Before there is any long-term debt-limit increase, a budget should be passed that cuts spending,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told the Republican conference at a retreat in Williamsburg, Va. “The Democratic-controlled Senate has failed to pass a budget for four years. That is a shameful run that needs to end, this year.”
Republicans believe that the temporary extension would give negotiators more time to strike a bipartisan debt deal and give the GOP additional leverage, while forcing Senate Democrats into passing a full budget resolution.
Carney said Friday that "the President remains committed to further reducing the deficit in a balanced way."
The reserved endorsement from the White House signaled a possible shift from earlier in the week, when Carney said the president was insisting on a debt-ceiling raise "without drama or delay."
"A monthly extension is drama, okay?" Carney said, adding that the United States was "not a third-tier economy that goes month to month or every half year and casting doubt on whether or not we’re going to meet our obligations."
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Democrats would be "happy" to consider a debt-ceiling bill.
"It is reassuring to see Republicans beginning to back off their threat to hold our economy hostage. If the House can pass a clean debt ceiling increase to avoid default and allow the United States to meet its existing obligations, we will be happy to consider it," Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said.
“As President Obama has said, this issue is too important to middle class families' economic security to use as a ploy for collecting a ransom. We have an obligation to pay the bills we have already incurred — bills for which many House Republicans voted."
—Russell Berman contributed.