As the government inches closer to a potential default, House Speaker John Boehner and senior House Republican lawmakers will meet Thursday at the White House with President Barack Obama in an effort to break an impasse that has kept the government partially closed since last week.
The session, which will be held one day after Obama met Wednesday night with congressional Democrats, takes place as investors fear Congress and the president cannot put aside their deep divisions to re-open the government and raise the government’s $16.7 trillion debt ceiling.
Without Congress raising the debt ceiling, the Treasury Department some time next week may not be able to borrow money to pay the government’s bills, which would amount to the first default in the nation’s history.
In addition to Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., other Republicans scheduled to attend the meeting include House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan.
Brendan Buck, a Boehner spokesman, said, “It is our hope that this will be a constructive meeting and that the president finally recognizes Americans expect their leaders to be able to sit down and resolve their differences.’’
In their race against time, Obama and Congress are dealing with two separate issues that could deliver a powerful wallop against the sluggish U.S. economy. Obama has insisted he will negotiate with Republicans after they agree to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling.
Republicans are demanding that Obama revise or delay sections of the 2010 health care law he signed in return for opening the entire government. To increase the debt ceiling, GOP lawmakers insist that the White House agree to restrain federal spending.
“We have a huge deficit and debt problem,’’ said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana. “I believe the president of the greatest country in the world at some point is going to say, ‘Let’s talk.’ ’’
The White House meeting takes place as even the most conservative lawmakers from Ohio warned that a government default would have a severe impact on the U.S. economy. By doing so, they appeared to distance themselves from a handful of conservatives who have downplayed the impact of a default.
“No one wants to go there,’’ said Jordan, a leader of the most conservative GOP lawmakers.
Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Twp., a Boehner ally, said he did not “want to bet on the markets going down and that’s why we have to raise the debt ceiling. But the president can’t have his way. For him to say he won’t negotiate is unreasonable. We shouldn’t be gambling with our neighbors 401K plans.’’