Jack Lew: White House ‘not paying ransom’ on debt ceiling


Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew and other top administration officials repeatedly told Democratic senators Thursday that the White House is "not paying ransom" to congressional Republicans in order to secure another increase in the federal debt limit.

Lew and White House Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri attended the weekly Democratic policy luncheon to reiterate the administration's long-held position, according to senators who attended the lunch. Aides said the exchange was mostly pro-forma since senators are familiar with and agree with President Obama's strategy on this issue.

"There is no reason to hold anything hostage to getting a debt ceiling raise," Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said after the meeting. "We just had a budget agreement, we had an appropriations bill, we determined where our spending is going to be, we now have a responsibility as the managers of this country to pay for that."

How Republicans respond to the White House position remains to be seen. House Republicans were set to discuss their strategy Thursday during a group meeting at their annual policy retreat underway at a hotel in Cambridge, Md.

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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