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Broken Government

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White House Warns: We're Far from a Deal

October 15th 2013


White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday warned congressional leaders are “far from a deal” to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown.

"We're encouraged by the progress that we've seen in the Senate, but we're far from a deal at this point," Carney told reporters. "So we hope that progress continues."

The White House spokesman said that "we certainly believe there's a potential there for a resolution" and that President Obama was "pleased with the progress" toward a bill in the Senate.

 But he also cautioned that "we are very close to a very important deadline." The Treasury Department has said that the nation will hit the debt ceiling on Thursday, leading to the danger of default if Treasury's $30 billion cash balance proves inadequate.  Carney's comments came shortly after the White House rejected a proposal floated by House Republican leaders that would fund the government until Jan. 15 and extend the debt ceiling until Feb. 7.

That proposal includes language that would prevent members of Congress, as well as Cabinet members, the president and the vice president, from getting taxpayer subsidies to help offset their coverage under ObamaCare. It would also delay a tax on medical devices under the law and strip out a provision in the Senate plan that would delay a tax on reinsurance that labor unions have protested.

But it appeared that the GOP might not have the votes to push the bill through the House — a point Carney made sure to note. He said it seemed that leaders were now going back to "add some sweeteners for Tea Party members."

The press secretary said that rather than trying to get support from the Tea Party coalition in the House, Boehner and other leaders should instead coalesce around bipartisan Senate legislation that would draw Democratic votes.

He also said it was categorically "not true" that the White House had asked to include the medical device tax delay as part of a budget deal. Carney said the administration was, however, willing to discuss the proposal as part of "improving" the Affordable Care Act.

Later Tuesday, the president and vice president will meet with House Democratic leaders at the White House. Attendees will include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

Earlier in the day, the president was briefed by senior administration officials on the effects of the shutdown on small businesses. The White House said that some $1 billion in small-business loan assistance had been halted because of the shutdown, jeopardizing thousands of jobs.

Justin Sink writes for The Hill, from where this article is adapted.

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