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Pelosi says Dems could accept short-term debt ceiling hike

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Democrats would be willing to accept a short-term hike to the debt ceiling after emerging Wednesday from a meeting between President Obama and the House Democratic caucus.

Asked if House Democrats were willing to accept a short-term debt ceiling hike, Pelosi said that "if the alternative is to renege, to default," then they would support it.

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At the same time, Pelosi insisted that Democrats would not agree to any conditions attached to a short-term hike. Republicans would likely insist that any debt limit increase is met with equivalent spending cuts.

“The debt ceiling needs to be lifted and they are not getting any concession for that," Pelosi said.

Pelosi also said he did not think it was "responsible" to pursue a short-term extension because it would perpetuate uncertainty in the financial markets.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) added that "good policy" would be to extend the debt ceiling "for a long period of time."

But, Hoyer said, "We're not going to vote against America paying its bills."

The White House said the meeting lasted for over an hour, and that Obama thanked House Democrats "for their support of the clean, short-term continuing resolution."

The president and lawmakers shared stories about how their staffs and constituents had been harmed by the shutdown. They also applauded each other for presenting a united front amid the budget fight.

Obama also told the assembled lawmakers that "what they are all fighting for has nothing to do with him, or other party leaders," but instead the party's legislative agenda, the White House said.

Most of the 200-member House Democratic conference travelled to the White House for the meeting, the first in a series of outreach efforts by the White House in the coming days.

On Thursday, 18 top Republicans will head to the White House as lawmakers seek a deal to reopen the government and raise the debt limit.

The White House had invited the full Republican caucus to participate, but the Speaker opted to send a smaller delegation, including leadership members and committee chairmen, a Boehner aide said earlier Wednesday.

That decision drew a rebuke from White House press secretary Jay Carney, who said in a statement Wednesday the president was “disappointed” that Boehner is “preventing his members from coming to the White House” to discuss the shutdown and debt ceiling.

Obama will meet with the Senate Democratic caucus on Thursday.