WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama today offered to negotiate with the Republican leadership only after the threat of government shutdown and debt default have been removed, the White House said.
Obama conveyed this message to House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner in a telephone call from his Oval Office, as the risk of first-ever debt default in US history looms if Democrats failed to get Republicans to agree to a long-term USD 1 trillion debt-limit increase.
“The President is willing to negotiate with Republicans - after the threat of government shutdown and default have been removed - over policies that Republicans think would strengthen the country,” the White House said in readout of the telephone call.
The President also repeated his willingness to negotiate on priorities that he has identified including policies that expand economic opportunity, support private sector job creation, enhance the competitiveness of American businesses, strengthen the Affordable Care Act and continue to reduce the nation's deficit, it said.
Obama urged Boehner to hold a vote in the House of Representatives on the Senate-passed measure that would re-open the federal government immediately.
Citing the Senate's intention to pass a clean, year-long extension of the debt limit this week, the President also pressed the Speaker to allow a timely up-or-down vote in the House to raise the debt limit with no ideological strings attached, the White House said.
The government shutdown has entered its second week as the October 17 deadline to raise the debt ceiling looms ahead for political leaders locked in partisan stalemate.
Obama noted that only Congress has the authority to raise the debt limit and failure to do so would have grave consequences for middle class families and the American economy as a whole, it said.
Earlier at a Capitol Hill news conference, Boehner alleged that Obama and the Democratic leadership in the Senate is not willing to negotiate.
“Americans expect us to work out our differences, but refusing to negotiate is an untenable position. And frankly by refusing to negotiate, Harry Reid (Senate Majority Leader) and the President are putting our country on a pretty dangerous path,” he said.
“There's never been a president in our history that did not negotiate over the debt limit, never, not once. As a matter of fact, President Obama negotiated with me over the debt limit in 2011. He also negotiated with the Blue Dog Democrats to raise the debt ceiling in 2010.
“So the way to resolve this is to sit down and have a conversation to resolve our differences,” Boehner said, adding that he wants to have a conversation with the US President.