House Speaker John Boehner said today that President Obama’s demands for a clean spending bill to reopen the government amount to an “unconditional surrender” for Republicans and defiantly added, “that’s not the way our government works.”
Earlier today, Obama urged Republicans to pass a clean funding bill to reopen the government and eliminate the threat of default by agreeing to raise the debt limit.
“Let’s stop the excuses. Let’s take a vote in the House. Let’s end this shutdown right now,” Obama said. “Let’s lift these threats.”
Hours later, Boehner responded with his own news conference where he made clear Republicans are not prepared to cave to Democratic demands.
“What the president said today was, if there is unconditional surrender by Republicans, he’ll sit down and talk to us,” Boehner said. “That’s not the way our government works.”
The president called the speaker earlier today to discuss the impasse that led to the first government shutdown in 17 years. Boehner characterized the phone call as “a pleasant conversation,” but added he was “disappointed that the president refuses to negotiate.”
“The long and short of it is, there is going to be a negotiation here,” Boehner insisted. “We can’t raise the debt ceiling without doing something about what’s driving us to borrow more money and to live beyond our means. The idea that we should continue to spend money that we don’t have and give the bill to our kids and our grandkids would be wrong.”
Boehner ticked off a number of historical examples of U.S. presidents negotiating with a divided Congress to increase the debt limit.
“I didn’t come here to shut down the government. I certainly didn’t come here to default on our debt,” Boehner said. “But when it comes to the debt limit, again, over the last 40 years, 27 times, the debt limit has been used to carry significant policy changes that would in fact reduce spending and put us on a saner fiscal path.”
“It’s time to have that conversation, not next week, not next month, the conversation ought to start today,” he added. “I’m hopeful that whether it’s the president or Democrat leaders here in the Congress, we can begin that conversation.”