House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says debt-ceiling talks with President Obama and congressional Democrats are "changing moment by moment," but that a deal between himself and the president is unlikely, according to rank-and-file House Republicans who participated during a telephone conference call with the Speaker on Sunday afternoon.
One of the lawmakers said the sense was that Boehner believed the House and the Senate would be more likely to reach their own agreement -- a six-month solution – and that the two chambers might proceed with that package together without the president’s sign-off.
Boehner only spoke in generalities about such a package, the lawmaker said.
But Boehner told the members that he believed Republicans were “winning the war on messaging,” and that they must be strong and stand together.
“No one wants default. If we stick together, we can win this for the American people,” Boehner told the lawmakers.
Boehner’s remarks were described in interviews with lawmaker following the call, which began at about 4:30 p.m. Some of the lawmakers said he left them with a sense that some type of plan for how the House will proceed could still be finalized tonight, because he told them details would be coming on Monday when they return to Washington.
A source familiar with what Boehner precisely told members confirmed the descriptions, describing him as saying during the call that Obama wants a “$2.4 trillion debt limit increase all at once — without any guarantees that we’re going to cut more than the $2.4 trillion in spending.” Boehner then complained, “the administration say they (want) it all upfront, so we don’t have to deal with this again until after the election.”
Boehner then offered to members that the challenge in stopping Obama is to develop legislation that can pass both chambers.
But he reminded him that the Senate had tabled the House-passed Cut, Cap, and Balance Act.
The source familiar with his exact remarks said Boehner remarked, “So the question becomes – if it’s not the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act itself – what CAN we pass that will protect our country from what the president is trying to orchestrate?”
Boehner mentioned to members he’d heard of a new plan being offered at the White House by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., but would not discuss whether he knew specifics.
But Boehner seemed intent on emphasizing to members that “the path forward is not an agreement between me and the President.” And he said it is possible that the White House ultimately might not go along with what the House and Senate may decide to do – and that Congress may have to proceed with passing a debt-ceiling package without an agreement with Obama.
If that happens, he said, it will be up to the president to decide whether to sign it or veto it," one lawmaker described Boehner as telling members.