Obama would sign debt limit suspension

Jan. 22, 2013 at 4:56 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- President Obama would sign a Republican-backed measure suspending the U.S. debt ceiling through mid-May if it lands on his desk, a spokesman said Tuesday.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters the president would not block such legislation but would prefer a long-term solution.

The United States hit its $16.4 trillion debt limit New Year's Eve, forcing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to use accounting tricks to keep U.S. payments current. Geithner has warned he cannot keep up the actions indefinitely.

The House was scheduled to vote Wednesday on suspending the debt ceiling through May 19.

The administration issued a policy statement saying it was encouraged by the measure, which "lifts the immediate threat of default and indicates that congressional Republicans have backed off an insistence on holding the nation's economy hostage to extract drastic cuts in Medicare, education, and other programs that middle-class families depend on. For these reasons, the administration would not oppose a short-term solution to the debt limit and looks forward to continuing to work with both the House and the Senate to increase certainty and stability for the economy."

Carney noted the president has always said it is bad for the economy to raise the debt ceiling in increments.

Carney praised Republicans for backing away "from the kind of brinkmanship that was very concerning to the markets, very concerning to business, very concerning to the American people."

Carney said Obama is willing to "negotiate in good faith" to reduce deficit spending.

"The president will not negotiate over Congress' responsibility to pay the bills that Congress has already incurred. That is true today. It will be true in three months. It will be true for as long as he's president," Carney said.

"He has always indicated his interest in and desire to work with, engage with and negotiate with Congress over how we continue to reduce our deficit in a responsible, balanced way, and he will do that."

On another front, The Hill reported the conservative Club for Growth has decided against scoring the debt ceiling suspension plan, removing some pressure from GOP legislators who have been squeezed by their leaders and outside interests.

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