Washington: US President Barack Obama has stepped up his personal engagement with lawmakers over the government shutdown, which the White House hoped would help in resolving the current economic crisis including the one of raising the debt ceiling by October 17.
Obama, who cancelled his 10-day trip to Asia to stay at the White House and resolve the current political impasse over the budget with the Republicans that has resulted in the government shutdown for the first time in 17 years, yesterday met the Democratic party lawmakers.
During the meeting, he told lawmakers that he would negotiate with the Republicans but "not with a gun at my head." The meeting lasted over an hour.
Obama is scheduled to meet the Republican Party lawmakers at the White House tomorrow.
The White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, said President Obama is disappointed that the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner, is preventing his members from coming to the White House.
"The President thought it was important to talk directly with the members who forced this economic crisis on the country about how the shutdown and a failure to pay the country's bills could devastate the economy," Carney said.
The White House had invited the full Republican caucus to participate in a meeting with the president, but the Speaker opted to send a smaller delegation, including leadership members and committee chairmen, a Boehner aide yesterday said.
"Nine days into a government shutdown and a week away from breaching the debt ceiling, a meeting is only worthwhile if it is focused on finding a solution. That's why the House Republican Conference will instead be represented by a smaller group of negotiators, including the elected leadership and certain committee chairmen," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said.
Meanwhile, in local television interviews, Obama blamed Republicans for the current government shutdown which entered its ninth day.
"Nobody's explained to me so far why you have to shutdown the government to have a negotiation and nobody's explained to me so far why you have to threaten the full faith and credit of the United States in order to have a negotiation," Obama told the Tampa NBC affiliate.
The White House said the consequences of the shutdown are many and they're compounding.
"The consequences are real and resonant for millions of Americans," Carney told reporters.
"When it comes to raising the debt ceiling, we are now days away from the point beyond which, we will no longer have borrowing authority. That would put us in uncharted territory. We would have crossed a line we have never crossed before. The consequences are unknowable in the specific, but catastrophic in any case," he said.
Carney said negotiations with the Republicans cannot happen under threat of continued shutdown, and it cannot happen under threat of default.
"The President has been crystal-clear about that. We will not engage in a situation where the tea party faction of the Republican Party is demanding that the American people pay ransom in return for Congress doing its job," he said.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that conservative Republicans have now warmed to the idea of a short-term increase in the country's borrowing limit and as its leaders prepared themselves for their first meeting with Obama since the government shutdown began.
Congressman Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, outlined a plan to fellow conservatives to extend the nation's borrowing limit for four to six weeks, paired with a framework for broader deficit-reduction talks, according to lawmakers briefed on the proposal, the financial daily said.