U.S. 'shouldn't even get close to' debt default: Boehner

WASHINGTON Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:40pm EST

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) gestures as he speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington January 16, 2014. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) gestures as he speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington January 16, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said the United States should avoid a major fight over raising the federal debt ceiling that brings the United States close to a default.

After passage of a $1.1 trillion spending bill, the only major fiscal hurdle facing Congress over the next nine months is an increase in the $17 trillion debt ceiling that is expected to be needed in as little as six weeks.

Boehner told a news conference that the United States should not default on its debt and "shouldn't even get close to it."

He did not say whether Republicans would tie an increase in the debt ceiling to demands for additional deficit reduction.

An extension of U.S. borrowing authority is due to expire on February 7, but the Treasury Department has said its extraordinary cash management measures can allow it to keep issuing new debt until late February or early March.

"I would hope that the House and the Senate would act quickly on a bill to increase the debt limit," Boehner said, without speculating on when such legislation could begin moving forward in Congress.

Speaking to reporters at his weekly press conference, Boehner was asked whether he would engage in direct negotiations with President Barack Obama on a new deficit-reduction package as part of the effort to increase the debt limit.

Boehner rejected that idea, saying, "there's not much really to talk about" because Obama has said he would not negotiate on the debt limit.

Past one-on-one budget negotiations between Obama and Boehner have largely ended in failure.

The Ohio Republican also said that "we find ourselves in a fairly difficult box" because Obama and his fellow Democrats insist on tax increases as part of any major new deficit-reduction and "Republicans are not going to raise taxes."

(Reporting By Richard Cowan and David Lawder; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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Comments (3)
Oh, sure, he SAYS that now – but he’s about as effective at his job as… well… I can’t complete that analogy because anyone in the private sector as incompetent as Boehner has long since been fired. He’s got zero leadership and he proved that during their last shutdown debacle.

The House GOP is run by conservative “Think” Tanks, not Boehner. These groups are radically extreme, and have nothing to lose by damaging the nation with hostage-taking tactics; that’s a dangerous combination, and Boehner can’t do anything about it.

Trying to whip his caucus for a vote is like herding cats.

Jan 16, 2014 1:16pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Whipsplash wrote:
Well Johnny, the only reason we’d get close to default would be the fault of your party, just like last time.

Jan 16, 2014 1:25pm EST  --  Report as abuse
SunnyDaySam wrote:
I dunno, John; Your GOP hasn’t missed a single opportunity to sabotage our economy since we elected Obama the first time. Why would this be any different?

Jan 16, 2014 4:33pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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