Boehner Calls for Concessions to Meet New Debt Limit Deadline

Image: Boehner Calls for Concessions to Meet New Debt Limit Deadline

Thursday, 23 Jan 2014 11:07 AM

By Melanie Batley

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The Obama administration has told Congress it will need to raise the debt limit earlier than expected to avoid a default on the nation's debt, but House Speaker John Boehner's office has said Republicans will be seeking concessions from the White House before agreeing to a deal.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Boehner Wednesday urging Congress to come to an agreement by Feb. 7 to avoid the country defaulting on its debt. He said the original deadline of early March needed to be moved up slightly due to the most recent forecasts.

"When I previously wrote to you in December, I estimated that Treasury would exhaust extraordinary measures in late February or early March," Lew wrote, according to Politico.

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"Based on our best and most recent information, we believe that Treasury is more likely to exhaust those measures in late February," he said, adding, "I respectfully urge Congress to provide certainty and stability to the economy and financial markets by acting to raise the debt limit before Feb. 7, 2014, and certainly before late February."

Boehner's office said that any debt ceiling increase needs to include concessions from the Democrats.

"The speaker has said that we should not default on our debt, or even get close to it, but a 'clean' debt limit increase simply won't pass in the House," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, according to Politico. "We hope and expect the White House will work with us on a timely, fiscally responsible solution."

President Barack Obama, however, signaled in December that he will not negotiate with Congress on raising the debt ceiling.

"It is not something that is a negotiating tool. It's not leverage," he said, telling reporters in a news conference that he does not expect a stand-off over the issue.

"I've got to assume folks aren't crazy enough to start that all over again," Obama said last month, referring to the October shutdown.

The deal in October to end the government shutdown suspended the nation's $17 trillion borrowing cap until Feb. 7.

On that date, the borrowing limit will increase automatically to cover all government borrowing from the suspended period, and the Treasury will put in place "extraordinary measures" to make funds available under the cap to remain current on payments, The Hill reports.

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