WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The White House signaled on Wednesday it could support a short-term increase in the U.S. borrowing limit for “a few days” if lawmakers agreed to a broad deficit reduction deal but needed more time to pass it.
The move, a shift from President Barack Obama’s previous position, reflects the growing political reality that time is short for Congress to pass a massive deficit-cutting deal before the United States runs out of money on Aug. 2.
A new proposal for long-term deficit reduction from a bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of Six has revived hope that a broad agreement on spending cuts can be reached to avoid a looming default and alleviate pressure on America’s triple-A credit rating.
Republicans do not want to support increasing the debt limit without deep spending cuts. Democrats want tax increases for the wealthiest Americans to be part of a deficit cutting package, an option most Republicans rule out.
Obama had vehemently opposed a short-term extension of the $14.3 trillion debt limit as a solution to the dilemma, and the White House reiterated that stance on Wednesday — but with a caveat.
Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney said in a written statement that the president would consider supporting a short-term fix if a deal had been reached “and we needed a very short-term extension (like a few days) to allow a bit of extra time for a bill to work its way through the legislative process.”