President Barack Obama has again said he is willing to negotiate with congressional Republicans on broad budget and fiscal issues, but will not do so under threat of a U.S. government default on its debt payments or an ongoing government shutdown.
During a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which like other agencies has many employees furloughed by the shutdown, Obama again urged Republicans to drop what he has called ideological demands.
Saying he has always been willing to negotiate on broader budgetary issues, he said the first job for Congress is to move beyond a "manufactured crisis" to get government services running again, and avoid a potentially damaging default.
"We're not going to negotiate under the threat of further harm to our economy and middle class families. We're not going to negotiate under the threat of a prolonged shutdown until Republicans get 100 percent of what they want. We're not going to negotiate under the threat of economic catastrophe that economists and CEOs increasingly warn would result if Congress chose to default on America's obligations," said Obama.
Obama said he will not allow such a "pattern" to be established. He again challenged House of Representatives Speaker Republican John Boehner to put a "clean" government funding bill on the House floor.
Press Secretary Jay Carney spent much of Monday's White House news briefing responding to questions about a remark earlier in the day by Gene Sperling, a senior economic official.
At a Politico breakfast, Sperling was asked about the possibility of a short-term increase of the nation's $16.7 trillion debt limit.
"No question that the longer the debt limit is extended, the greater economic certainty there will be in our economy, which will be better for jobs, and growth and investment. That said, it is the responsibility of Congress to decide how long and how often they want to vote on doing that," said Sperling.
The administration has warned that even discussion of not raising the limit, let alone failing to do so, could bring economic calamity and set back recovery from the financial crisis.
Carney said agreement by Boehner to reopen the government, and not threaten a default, would open the way to broader negotiations.
He said the White House does not rule anything in or out as far as the duration of any debt limit solution is concerned, but that Congress needs to fulfill its obligations to fund the government and pay its bills.
"How Congress fulfills it, as long as they fulfill it, without drama or delay, without brinksmanship, without threatening default, is up to them and the duration they attach to it is up to them," said Carney.
Republicans, but specifically Tea Party conservatives in the House of Representatives, have linked demands for changes in Obama's signature health care reform law to the government shutdown, and the debt.
On the House floor, Speaker Boehner interpreted another remark by Gene Sperling as indicating Obama would rather push the nation into default than negotiate.
"The American people expect when their leaders have differences, and we're in a time of crisis, we'll sit down and at least have a conversation. Really, Mr. President, it's time to have that conversation before our economy is put further at risk," said Boehner.
The White House supports an effort by Senate Democrats who plan to introduce legislation as early as mid-week to raise the borrowing limit, without conditions attached.