A barrier sits near the Washington Monument as the government shutdown continued into the weekend.
WASHINGTON: Republican House Speaker John Boehner vowed yesterday not to raise the US debt ceiling without a “serious conversation” about what is driving the debt, while Democrats said it was irresponsible and reckless to raise the possibility of a US default.
“The nation’s credit is at risk because of the administration’s refusal to sit down and have a conversation,” Boehner told ABC’s “This Week,” adding that there were not enough votes in the House of Representatives to pass a “clean” debt limit bill, without any conditions attached.
Asked if that meant the United States was headed towards a default if President Barack Obama did not negotiate ahead of an October 17 deadline to raise the debt ceiling, Boehner said: “That’s the path we’re on.”
The comments appeared to mark a hardening since late last week when Boehner was reported to have told Republicans privately that he would work to avoid default, even if it meant relying on the votes of Democrats, as he did in August 2011.
Republicans and Democrats also traded blame for a shutdown that has brought much of the government to a standstill for nearly a week. With no end in sight, the battle over funding the government has merged into the one over the debt ceiling.
Republicans have demanded that Democrats agree to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the landmark 2010 law popularly known as Obamacare, as part of any spending bill.
They have also been seeking measures to address the federal government’s long-term debt in exchange for raising its $16.7 trillion debt limit. REUTERS