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White House Lesson from Repeal Fail: Do More Outreach 'Before We Launch a Project'

WASHINGTON – White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said President Trump is “likely” to support a “clean debt ceiling” increase without any spending cuts attached.

When President Obama was in office, many conservatives in Congress had called for spending cuts to exceed the amount of a debt ceiling increase.

“We are due to increase the debt ceiling by the end of September in order to keep making payments. In many cases these are programs the president inherited. So, as I mentioned before, what you saw with [OMB Director Mick] Mulvaney was putting forward a budget that balances within 10 years – that’s a commitment the president has supported and continues to support, so we want to do that,” he said at the Young America’s Foundation National Conservative Student Conference on Thursday.

“But, unfortunately, there are so many bills that have piled up and commitments we have made that if we don’t raise the debt ceiling that it’s not fulfilling obligations the United States has offered. I would welcome an opportunity to see a debt-ceiling package that included spending cuts as well. I think there’s some that advocate for that, but I think more likely what we will see is a clean debt ceiling for right now, so that’s probably an issue that will be addressed in the future,” he added.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) met last week for what the GOP leader characterized as a "good meeting to discuss raising the debt ceiling, which we all know will need to be done sometime in the next month or so."

Short told the audience of conservative student activists that Trump has not given up on repealing Obamacare, but the window to pass a repeal bill in Congress ends on Sept. 30.

“As far as the practical timetable, the bill that was moving forward would have allowed us to pass repeal and replace with a 50-vote threshold instead of a traditional threshold in the Senate under what’s called budget reconciliation – that expires at the end of September,” he said. “So if senators go home in August and feel pressure from their constituents who say it’s not adequate, that you haven’t done what you promised you would do, I think there will be a renewed effort for them to address it when they come back.”

Short said the White House believes there is still a path to repeal Obamacare before the end of September.

“We believe we will be working more with some of the governors over the next few weeks. There’s some things we can do from the executive branch that is not as permanent as legislation that we were holding off on to see if the legislation would happen, so we will continue to try to pull away at it. But there’s no doubt that the best route is to actually get it done legislatively,” he said.