Obama: I'm still not negotiating on debt limit

President Obama reiterated Friday he is not interested in negotiating over raising the debt limit.

“The debt ceiling is raised simply to pay bills that we have already accrued,” he said at his end-of-year press conference. “It is not something that is a negotiating tool. It’s not leverage. It’s the responsibility of Congress as part of doing their job. I expect them to do their job."


“I’ve got to assume folks aren’t crazy enough to start that thing over again,” he added.

Obama’s comments come as Congress gears up for a debate over hiking the borrowing cap. His comments, along with those of high-ranking Republicans, suggest the two parties are again taking entrenched positions on the hot-button issue.

The debt limit, suspended as part of the deal to end the government shutdown, will resume on Feb. 7. Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis On The Money: Senate confirms Yellen as first female Treasury secretary | Biden says he's open to tighter income limits for stimulus checks | Administration will look to expedite getting Tubman on bill Sorry Mr. Jackson, Tubman on the is real MORE has informed Congress he will only be able to avoid a default until the beginning of March at the latest.

Obama’s remarks suggest he is not stepping away from his negotiating stance on the debt limit, which he declared last September. At the time, the president said he would refuse to entertain any negotiations tied to raising the borrowing cap, which stood at $16.7 trillion when it was suspended in October.

Attention has shifted to the debt limit just days after Congress passed a two-year budget agreement. Obama pointed to that bipartisan deal as a positive sign and suggested lawmakers should not drag Washington back into crisis mode by forcing a fight on the debt limit.

“I can’t imagine that, having seen this possible daylight breaking when it comes to cooperation in Congress, that folks are thinking about actually plunging us back into the kinds of brinkmanship and governance by crisis that has done us so much harm,” he said.

He also said he’d be willing to deal with Republicans on a host of issues but just not in the context of the debt limit.

While the president is ruling out negotiations, Republicans have said they have every intention of pursuing concessions as part of the upcoming debt limit debate. Days after striking the budget deal, Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBiden's relationship with top House Republican is frosty The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Budowsky: Liz Cheney vs. conservatives in name only MORE (R-Wis.) said on “Fox News Sunday” that Republicans will be looking to the debt limit to obtain concessions.

However, Republicans have yet to say what, specifically, they will be looking for in that effort.

“We don’t want nothing out of this debt limit. We’re going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt-limit fight,” Ryan said.