WASHINGTON — A glimmer of hope arrived Thursday in the nation’s capital in the form of a proposed temporary extension of the debt ceiling.
“I think it’s a path forward,” said Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb.
Republicans and Democrats have been stuck on both reopening the federal government and raising the debt ceiling.
Lines in the sand have hardened into lines in concrete. Republicans say President Barack Obama refuses to negotiate. The White House says Republicans have taken the economy hostage and demanded a ransom.
The proposal that bubbled up Thursday would push off the debt ceiling by six weeks. The administration has indicated that it will run out of borrowing authority on Oct. 17; the temporary measure would give both sides some breathing room to try and talk things out and find a solution.
Terry said he hasn’t committed to voting for the temporary debt ceiling proposal, however. First, he wants some signs of commitment from the White House.
“If you’re going to vote for this, you’ve got to have a lot of assurances that there’s going to be real and earnest talks and so you have to have trust,” Terry said. “And unfortunately there’s not a lot of trust between us and the president.”
He said the president has not shown he can be trusted with his recent comments about Congress.
“We need him to help, too, and spending the last couple weeks telling the world that we’re terrorists and hostage takers and we put suicide vests on has taken our trust to below zero,” Terry said.
Still, this could be the sign of a thaw in the frozen state of negotiations.
“Both parties have not only put themselves in a box but a corner of the box, and so each has to make some move to get out,” Terry said. “So we’re making a move to get out, but it has to be reciprocated.”
It remains to be seen how senators will react to the proposal. Obama was planning to meet with Senate Republicans on Friday.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., said he expected to learn more at that meeting, but questioned the idea of raising the debt ceiling while keeping the government shut down.
“It did strike me as an unusual approach, that you would raise the debt ceiling but not solve the other issues that are out here,” Johanns said.