House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) says that the House won't pass a "clean" increase in the nation's debt ceiling — and that the U.S. is on the "path to default" if President Barack Obama won't negotiate on an increase.
"We're not going to pass a clean debt limit increase," Boehner told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.
"I told the president, there's no way we're going to pass one. The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit. And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us."
Later, Stephanopoulos asked: "So are you saying that if he continues to refuse to negotiate, the country is going to default?"
"That's the path we're on," Boehner said.
Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press Saturday that he expects congressional Republicans to relent and raise the debt ceiling by an Oct. 17 deadline. His long-held position has been that he won't negotiate with Republicans if the "full faith and credit" of the U.S. is at risk.
But he also didn't explicitly rule out working around Congress to take unilateral action on the debt ceiling — if it comes to that.
During a round of Sunday-show appearances, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew also warned that Republicans are "playing with fire" on the debt ceiling. The Treasury Department has begun sounding the alarm in full force this week, warning in a new report that failure to raise the nation's borrowing limit could inflict an economic catastrophe worse than anything since the Great Depression.
In the interview, Boehner claimed he did not have the votes in the House for either a "clean" debt-ceiling increase or "clean" government-funding bill that would reopen the government. The government shutdown entered into its sixth day on Sunday — and on that, too, Boehner doesn't see an end.
"When is this going to end?" Stephanopoulos asked.
"If I knew, I would tell you," Boehner said.
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