WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama Friday said the United States was “running out of time” to reach a deal on raising the country’s debt ceiling to avert a possible early August default.
“We are obviously running out of time. And so what I’ve said to the members of Congress is that you need over the next 24 to 36 hours to give me some sense of what your plan is to get the debt ceiling raised through whatever mechanisms they can think about,” he told a White House press conference.
And he told his Republican foes that “if they show me a serious plan, I’m ready to move.”
“I am still pushing for us to achieve a big deal. But what I also said to the group is if we can’t do the biggest deal possible, then let’s still be ambitious, let’s still try to at least get a downpayment on deficit reduction,” he added.
Earlier Friday his Republican foes ramped up the fight over averting a disastrous early August debt default, tying that step to passage of a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution.
“We’re finally back on offense,” Republican Representative Jeff Flake told reporters after a closed-door meeting amid contentious negotiations on raising the US debt ceiling by an August 2 deadline.
The long-shot Republican plan, which stood little chance of clearing the Democratic-led US Senate or winning White House support, called for a vote next Wednesday on a measure they have dubbed “Cut, Cap, and Balance.”
The proposal envisions some $2.5 trillion in spending cuts, caps overall government spending as a percentage of GDP, and calls for a balanced budget amendment.
The measure would include a statement that House Republicans will only agree to vote on raising the $14.3 trillion US debt limit if the entire Congress approves a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution.
A vote on that measure — which would require two-thirds of the House and Senate to set up a vote by three quarters of the 50 states — would follow, trailed by a final ballot on raising the debt ceiling, lawmakers said.