U.S. House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday rejected President Barack Obama’s stance that he’ll talk to Republicans only after the partial government shutdown ends and the risk of default is pushed back.
Boehner insisted on immediate negotiations with Obama, after the President warned that the U.S. economy risks a “very deep recession” if Congress doesn’t raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling.
Obama told White House reporters that he could accept a temporary reprieve while he negotiates with Republican leaders over fiscal and health policy. Yet only after Congress ends the shutdown and raises the debt limit would he accept a list of topics for discussions with lawmakers, Obama said.
“What the president said today was if there’s unconditional surrender by Republicans, he’ll sit down,” Boehner told reporters at the Capitol after Obama’s news conference, reported Bloomberg.
“That’s not the way our government works,” he stressed.
The dueling press conferences came as lawmakers began taking the first tentative steps toward resolving the standoff. Both sides are exploring actions that will be needed to end the week-old shutdown and raise the debt limit before U.S. borrowing authority lapses on October 17.
Republicans have sought spending cuts and changes in Obama’s health-care law.
Senate Democrats are introducing a bill that would raise the debt ceiling for a year, said Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat. They are planning a test vote before the end of this week.
To succeed, they’ll need support from at least six Republicans on procedural votes. They’ve gotten backing from one Republican, while several others haven’t ruled out the possibility of supporting the measure.
Republicans are insisting on changing the 2010 Affordable Care Act, while Obama refuses to engage in discussions about tying policy conditions to opening the government or raising the debt limit.