Obama: White House Debt Limit Meeting ‘Constructive,’ But No Deal Yet


President Obama speaks Thursday in the Brady Briefing Room following a meeting on the debt ceiling with congressional leaders. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama said Thursday that he had a very constructive meeting with congressional leaders about how to raise the nation’s debt limit, but that they would meet again Sunday after weekend of staff- and member-level negotiating to reassess where the status of a deal stands.

“People were frank, we discussed the various options available to us. Everybody reconfirmed the importance of completing our work and raising the debt-limit ceiling so the full faith and credit of the United States of America is not impaired,” President Obama said in a brief appearance in the White House Briefing Room.

Mr. Obama said that staff members and the leaders involved would work through the weekend to determine the respective bottom lines for Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate. Afterward, he said, the hard bargaining over a deal could begin.

There will be “pain on both sides politically,” Mr. Obama said, but he and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney did not reveal any specifics about the negotiations.

The White House said that Aug. 2 is the firm deadline for raising the nation’s debt limit, after which the nation would default on its obligations, potentially throwing the country into a fiscal crisis.

“Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to, and the parties are still far apart on a wide range of issues,” he said, adding that he thought the talk was in the “spirit of compromise.”

The two Senate Republicans at the meeting, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona, did not say much upon returning to the Capitol after the meeting.

“It was a very constructive meeting,” Kyl said. McConnell said it was a good conversation, but would not elaborate.

The other members of the meeting were Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.