Speaker John Boehner maintained Friday that the two parties are still arms-length apart on reaching a debt ceiling deal. The Ohio Republican said “there is no agreement in private or in public.” He added, “It’s not like there’s some imminent deal that’s about to happen.”
But given the jobs report out Friday that showed the country’s unemployment rate had ticked up to 9.2 percent, Boehner said an agreement on spending cuts and increasing the debt limit will have to be reached ahead of the Aug. 2 deadline.
Of the three proposals President Barack Obama outlined to Congressional leaders during a lengthy meeting Thursday, Boehner said he would prefer “a big deal that would fundamentally solve our spending problem and our debt problem in the near to medium term.”
“But at the end of the day, we’ve got to have a bill that we can pass in the House and Senate,” Boehner said. “This is a Rubik’s cube that we haven’t quite worked out yet.”
Boehner addressed Senate Republicans on Thursday to discuss the debt limit issue. And as bipartisan negotiators plan to work through the weekend in the lead-up to another bicameral meeting at the White House on Sunday, Boehner also announced the House would take up a pair of jobs-related bills in the coming weeks.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, met privately with Obama on Friday morning. The California Democrat has objected to cuts to entitlement programs in order to reach a deal to raise the debt limit. In a statement Friday in the wake of the latest jobs report, she reiterated that stance.
“Democrats know that creating jobs must be job No. 1 for this Congress, yet Republicans continue to push their plan to end Medicare in order to give billions in tax breaks to Big Oil and corporations that ship American jobs overseas,” she said.
Meanwhile, Obama used Friday’s rise in the unemployment rate to call on Congress to quickly come to a deal on the debt limit, as well as to pass patent reform, another payroll tax break, and long-stalled trade deals.
“The sooner we get this done — the sooner that the markets know that the debt limit ceiling will have been raised and that we have a serious plan to deal with our debt and deficit — the sooner that we give our businesses the certainty that they will need in order to make additional investments to grow and hire,” Obama told reporters. He added that increasing the debt ceiling and implementing a deficit reduction plan would “provide more confidence to the rest of the world as well, so that they are committed to investing in America.”
Obama also pushed for Congress to pass a patent reform bill that has been held up over whether fees collected by the Patent and Trademark Office are controlled by the agency or Congressional appropriators.
“Right now, we can give our entrepreneurs the chance to let their job-creating ideas move to market faster by streamlining our patent process. That’s pending before Congress right now. That should pass,” Obama said.
Obama said trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia should be moved to help U.S. businesses sell their goods abroad, and he urged Congress to extend his payroll tax break for another year.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.