WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are increasing the pressure on each other to bend in their deadlock over the federal debt limit and the partial government shutdown. Even as they do, there are hints they might consider a brief truce.
With the shutdown in its ninth day today and a potential economy-shaking federal default edging ever closer, neither side was showing signs of capitulating. Republicans were demanding talks on deficit reduction and Obama’s 2010 health care law as the price for boosting the government’s borrowing authority and returning civil servants to work, while the president wanted Congress to first end the shutdown and extend the debt limit.
Amid the tough talk, though, were indications that both sides might be open to a short-term extension of the $16.7 trillion borrowing limit and a temporary end to the shutdown, giving them more time to resolve their disputes.
Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Tuesday he was not drawing “lines in the sand.” He sidestepped a question about whether he’d raise the debt limit and fund government for short periods by saying, “I’m not going to get into a whole lot of speculation.”
Hours later, Obama used a White House news conference to say he “absolutely” would negotiate with Republicans on “every item in the budget” if Congress first sent him short-term measures halting the shutdown and the extending the debt limit. “There’s a crack there,” Boehner said of the clash late Tuesday, though he cautioned against optimism.
The stock market declined again Tuesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average dropping nearly 160 points, or 1.1 percent.