President Obama will not block a House Republican proposal to extend the nation's debt limit for just three months, the White House announced today.
"The bill still has to overcome some concerns expressed by members of the House and the Senate before it can pass both chambers and reach the president's desk. If it does and it reaches the president's desk, he would not stand in the way of the bill becoming law," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
House Republicans had suggested leveraging the debt ceiling to try to extract more spending cuts from the Obama administration, asking for one dollar of spending cuts for every dollar of increase in the debt ceiling. Late last week, however, the leadership proposed a three-month extension of the nation's borrowing limit, a move intended to buy lawmakers more time to work out a "Big Deal" on deficit reduction.
"The Administration is encouraged that H.R. 325 lifts the immediate threat of default and indicates that congressional Republicans have backed off an insistence on holding the Nation's economy hostage to extract drastic cuts in Medicare, education, and other programs that middle-class families depend on," according to a statement of administration policy.
"We support the idea that the debt ceiling ought not to be a political football that, by becoming that, does damage to our economy," Carney said. "We want to see the debt ceiling sort of removed from the process of the very important debates that we have over what we pay for, how much revenue we bring in, how we get our fiscal house in order."
The move comes one week after the president spoke out against such short-term extensions.
"We shouldn't be doing this on a one to three-month time-frame. Why would we do that? This is the United States of America," he told reporters at a White House news conference. "What, we can't manage our affairs in such a way that we pay our bills and we provide some certainty in terms of how we pay our bills?"
The White House continues to have concerns, but said today that the three-month plan put forward by House Republicans is a significant development in "de-escalating the sense of conflict."