Feb. 14, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Boehner: Obama Should Engage on Debt

Bill Clark/Roll Call

Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday called on President Barack Obama to become personally involved in cutting a deal to raise the debt ceiling.

The Ohio Republican told a small group of reporters that he was also ready to engage in negotiations so a resolution could happen within the month. He refused to endorse the debt limit talks being led by Vice President Joseph Biden and cast doubt on whether they would be the basis of any final deal to avert a government default and possible shutdown.

"The president should engage himself. ... I'm willing. I'm ready. It's time to have the conversation. It's time to play large ball, not small ball," Boehner said.

Boehner's call to action followed a meeting at the White House earlier in the day where the entire House Republican Conference and the president discussed the country's debt and budget. The Obama administration has said Aug. 2 is the deadline for raising the debt ceiling or the country will default on its financial obligations.

Boehner is not alone in wanting to engage. The 11-term lawmaker indicated Obama also recognizes the urgency of completing work.

"I suggested to the president this morning the sooner we deal with this, the better. The president agreed," he said.

Boehner ominously warned that if Congress and the administration do not come to a solution, "the markets may do it for us."

So far, debt ceiling negotiations have focused on the bipartisan group led by Biden. Boehner appointed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to be his representative in the talks set to resume June 9. Senate Republicans and Democrats, as well as House Democrats, are represented in the discussions as well.

When asked if he was disappointed by the state of those ongoing talks, Boehner declined to answer.

"The issues they are dealing with have to be dealt with," Boehner said. "They are making some marginal progress, but at the rate that is going, we'll be right up against the wall," he said.

He declined to say whether he was encouraged or discouraged by the progress of the group, saying those words were both too strong. Instead, he gave reporters his quintessential "Boehner shrug."

However, he did note, "We're now in June. This surely needs to be done in the next month if we're serious about no brinksmanship and rattling of swords."

He indicated finding a solution before the Aug. 2 deadline would help calm the financial markets and provide certainty for businesses.

"There's no reason to bump against [the Aug. 2 deadline]. We could have an agreement," Boehner said. "We can get this finished this month."

Although Boehner said he was ready to get involved, he refused to present a path forward on how a final agreement can be reached.

"It's not my job to outline [a path forward]," Boehner said. "I'm just ready to get on with it."

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