Boehner not promising House vote to raise debt ceiling

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 13, 2011. CBS

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
House Speaker John Boehner said Monday he's not promising a House vote to raise the debt ceiling, another sign that the ongoing struggle between Democrats and Republicans over the issue has a ways to go before resolution.

In a Monday night interview with Politico, Boehner said it was not his "goal" to hold up a vote on the matter, but that "there's a chance it could not happen" if the president fails to address GOP budget concerns.

"If the president doesn't get serious about the need to address our fiscal nightmare, yeah, there's a chance it [the debt limit vote] could not happen," Boehner told POLITICO. "But that's not my goal."

As the U.S. nears its $14.3 trillion debt limit, which it is expected to do by the end of May, Republicans appear increasingly staunch in their threats to withhold a vote on the issue in the absence of major concessions from Democrats - particularly in regard to a plan for addressing the nation's deficit problem - even as White House officials warn that failing to do so would result in widespread economic catastrophe.

In an interview with ABC on Tuesday, the Ohio Republican said that he thought it was "responsible" to increase the debt limit, but that he wanted to see trillions of dollars worth of spending cuts, as well as reforms to entitlement programs, before approving one.

"I believe it's responsible to increase the debt limit," he said. "But... it's time to cut up the credit cards. And that means that we've got to have real cuts in spending. And we're not gonna be talking about billions here. We're gonna be talking about trillions."

"We need to cut spending," Boehner added, when asked about his specific demands. "We've gotta control discretionary spending. About one third of the budget, we've been fighting about all year long. But we also have to do something about the entitlement programs. If we don't do anything, they're not gonna exist because they're not gonna be affordable. And the greatest danger we have in America today is doing nothing, which is basically what the president's proposing."

The speaker has shown some flexibility, however, on President Obama's calls to eliminate $4 billion dollars worth of tax incentives to oil and gas companies in order to instead invest in green and renewable energy projects.

Noting that while he thought the president was "not doing anything to make the situation better" regarding sky-high gas prices, Boehner told ABC News that oil and gas companies are "gonna pay their fair share in taxes - and they should."

"Listen, everybody ... wants to go after the oil companies. And frankly, they've got some part of this to blame," Boehner said in the interview. "I don't think the big oil companies need to have the oil depletion allowances. But for small, independent oil and gas producers, if they didn't have this there'd be even less exploration in America then there is today."

"I want see the facts. I don't want hear a bunch of political rhetoric," he added.

Still, Boehner argued that the president was disproportionately focused on cultivating alternative sources of energy, and urged Democrats to increase oil exploration efforts within the U.S.

"The fact is is there's a limited supply of oil around the world," Boehner said. "There's unrest in the Middle East driving up the price. They happen to hold the assets. They're the lucky ones at this point. But they oughta do everything they can to help us produce oil and gas at a lower price."

"[Obama's] not doing anything to make the situation better," he continued. "And the fact is is that we need all of the above. We need green energy, but we also need a transition to green energy. That means more oil and gas exploration. And it oughta happen sooner rather than later."

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