The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee said Republicans are willing to give President Obama a short-term extension on the debt ceiling to get “some breathing space.”
“I’ve probably been in seven, eight, nine meetings with the president. I would characterize this as probably the most constructive,” Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said after Obama’s White House meeting with GOP leadership.
“We want some breathing space,” he added. “We’ll increase the debt ceiling for six weeks, but we have got to address the debt crisis that we have. And the president didn’t say yes, but he didn’t say no. To some extent, I guess it is the first time as Republicans, we did not hear no, I refuse to negotiate. So this is a discussion that hasn’t led to negotiation yet.”
Hensarling said during the hour and a half meeting “there was at least understanding of each other’s position.”
“It is sad that it took so long. It hasn’t been that many years since we’ve had interaction. You have to have a little bit of understanding, a little trust to lead to negotiation, and it is all taking place tonight and probably over the weekend,” he added.
The chairman said Republicans feel like they’re meeting Obama halfway.
“We want for the first time to hear something besides, I will not negotiate. You must do this continuing resolution. You must do this debt ceiling,” Hensarling continued. “For the first time we didn’t hear that. What comes out of all this, I don’t know. I mean, every successful negotiation I’ve been in, people remain to their principles. They don’t get everything they want, but they walk away with something. We Republicans think we’ve met the president halfway. And he didn’t say yes, he did not say no, but I guess both parties are trying to figure out where are the parameters. Where might it lead?”
“We know the president has some strong feelings. We have some strong feelings about addressing the debt crisis. There are too many in Washington and Wall Street who want to deal with it tomorrow. We want to deal with it today. That’s what debt ceilings are for.”