Obama backs Senate debt deal, urges Congress to approve it swiftly: White House

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 16, 2013 1:15 PM
Obama backs Senate debt deal, urges Congress to approve it swiftly: White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama quickly endorsed a Senate deal aimed at averting a U.S. debt default and ending a government shutdown on Wednesday and wants Congress to approve it swiftly, the White House said.

Spokesman Jay Carney, briefing reporters on Obama's reaction to the bipartisan Senate deal that emerged on Capitol Hill, said the agreement will reopen the government and remove the threat of a debt default.

He said the United States is close to the point where the Treasury Department cannot borrow money to meet its debt obligations, which is why Congress needs to move fast.

While a wave of relief swept the White House at the prospect of an end to a 16-day government shutdown and the avoidance of a debt default, there was still a degree of uncertainty as to what would happen to the Senate legislation in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where a faction of conservatives has been in no mood to compromise.

"We are not putting odds on anything," Carney said when asked about prospects for House passage.

Carney was also reluctant to be seen declaring victory on behalf of Obama.

"There are no winners here," he said. "There is already a price that has been paid."

Looking ahead to the budget negotiations that the Senate deal requires, more partisan battles appear to be in the offing.

Carney said Obama would insist that "everything has to be on the table" as part of these negotiations, meaning the president would want new revenue generated from a budget deal, which Republicans have opposed.

Once the deal is approved, Obama wants to focus on gaining passage of a stalled overhaul of U.S. immigration laws. The Senate in June approved an immigration agreement but it has not advanced in the House.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Mark Felsenthal and Steve Holland; Editing by Eric Beech)