Debt Ceiling Debate Thursday: 4 Press Conferences, 3 Interviews, 1 Hour-Long Negotiating Session

Jul 14, 2011 7:05pm

Here is a compiled report of the day's developments in the debt ceiling debate from ABC News blogs and reporters, who encountered four press conferences on Capitol Hill, three local TV interviews at the White House, one fund-raising email and a single hour-long negotiating session.

The debt ceiling debate has taken on a breathless, moment-to-moment feel. Lawmakers spend a good portion of the day talking to the media and hardening their positions on debt ceiling negotiations.  Then, late in the afternoon, they go behind closed doors at the White House, where the actual negotiating occurs.

Those talks broke Thursday before 6 p.m. without a breakthrough and lawmakers are not expected to meet Friday.

Its not clear if any headway was made Thursday as President Obama and Congressional negotiators searched for a compromise to raise the government’s $14.29 trillion credit limit and avert a likely Aug. 3 default.

Thursday started on a sour note after the president left a meeting Wednesday just after 6 p.m. declaring that he was ready to lose his presidency over the principle of not signing a short-term debt ceiling increase.

Jake Tapper offered the White House version of events that transpired after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor suggested a new, short-term debt ceiling-extension proposal. 

Cantor had his own take on the temper of the meeting, according to ABC News' John Parkinson

By mid-morning Thursday, there were rumors that the principal negotiators could seclude themselves at Camp David over the weekend. But those were shot down before noon, when House Speaker John Boehner’s staff issued a statement saying the speaker declined an invitation to Camp David.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters around noon that she’d rather be eating S’Mores with her family in California than be at Camp David

Democrats in the Senate started their day with a press conference to argue that the effects of a default would send the economy into a tailspin.

“This idea that not paying the debt doesn’t matter is patently false, dangerous and callous," said Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Chinese government was quoted as saying he hopes the U.S. protects the "interests of its investors."

At 2 p.m., the president gave interviews to three local TV affiliates, including WSB-TV of Atlanta. according to ABC's Mary Bruce.

"There's no doubt America is stressed out,” he said. "We just went through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. That's why it's so important for us to get this thing settled now.”  

He told Philadelphia affiliate KYW that he walked out of the meeting Wednesday night because the American people expect him to be bold.

 “What we haven’t seen is an acknowledgement that if we’re serious about solving the problem, then everybody’s got to compromise a little bit. People have dug themselves into these very deep holes,” Obama told KYW’s Chris May.

Around that time, Boehner put his arm around House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at a Capitol Hill press conference. There have been reports of a rift between the two – Cantor rejected Boehner’s hopes for a “grand bargain” to use the debt ceiling debate as an entrée to larger entitlement and tax code reform. But today Boehner praised Cantor.

“Let me just say we have been in this fight together, and any suggestion that the role that Eric has played in this meeting has been anything less than helpful is just wrong,” Boehner said. 

Cantor renewed his pledge not to raise taxes in any way and his assurances that the deficit won’t get out of hand again.

“We're not going to raise the debt ceiling if we don't have cuts in excess of that amount, that we don't want to raise taxes, and that we want to structurally change the system so that we stop this from happening again,” Cantor said told members of the media.

It is not just Republicans drawing lines in the sand. The top Democrat on the House Budget Committee told Jonathan Karl on ABC News’ "Top Line" program that Democrats won’t be accepting any Medicare cuts.

At 2:15 p.m., Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with Senate Democrats.

“We’ve looked at all available options and we have no way to give Congress more time to solve this problem,” Geithner told reporters during a press conference afterward. “We’re running out of time.”

Geithner briefed the Democratic caucus as negotiations between Congressional leaders and the White House continued this afternoon.  The briefing brought a new tone of urgency on Capitol Hill.

“Aug. 2 is the deadline,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. “There is no waffling from that. There is no room to squeeze into another area. That’s it: Aug 2.”

By 3:30, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director Guy Cecil had sent a fundraising email to supporters encouraging them to give money to an “Emergency Media Campaign, designed to defend the defenders of Medicare and Social Security and end the political careers of as many Republicans as possible.” 

Negotiations started again at 4:24 p.m. on Thursday and were over by 5:43 p.m. There will be no meeting Friday as lawmakers consult their caucuses to determine what sort of deal can pass. 

Jake Tapper reports after the meeting Thursday that is described as cordial and that the President is holding out hope for the biggest deal possible. There are still three options for raising the debt ceiling on the table, although none appears to be the front-runner.

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf, Jake Tapper, Jonathan Karl, John Parkinson, Sunlen Miller and Mary Bruce contributed to this report.

 

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