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Camp David summit ruled out as parties seek to revive debt talks

Washington Bureau

House Speaker John Boehner has rejected as unnecessary the possibility of sequestering congressional leaders at Camp David this weekend to resolve the impasse on raising the debt ceiling.

“The speaker has told the White House he sees no need to go to Camp David this weekend,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

The idea that had been floated in Washington amid increasingly toxic negotiations was also dismissed by the top Democrat in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, who said she does not find it appropriate for the debt talks to overtake the president’s private space.

“The only thing I hope he doesn’t ask us to do is go to Camp David -- that goes beyond the pale,” Pelosi said. “I want that to be his preserve, a place where a president can go to renew, to study, to prepare for the next week. I want it to be a place where a president takes heads of state to close out all other concerns and stay focus on resolving a global problem. I don’t want it to be a place where the president has to continue to listen to some of this stuff.”

A White House aide said that “the talks have been and for next couple days will be here at the White House.”

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“If we have different plans, we’ll let people know, but there are currently no plans for that,” the aide said.

All sides are expected back at the White House on Thursday afternoon in what is expected to be a crucial day of deficit-reduction talks. Obama has told leaders he expects an answer by Friday on whether they can agree to a budget package to accompany a debt-ceiling vote.

Otherwise, Congress would need to consider alternative legislative scenarios for raising the debt limit by the Aug. 2 deadline, which the Treasury Department has said will be the point where it will no longer be able to pay the nation’s bills, risking a catastrophic federal default.

Democrats are increasingly trying to blame House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for the deteriorating talks.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the Virginia Republican’s behavior “childish.”

“Even Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader [Mitch] McConnell seem to understand the seriousness of this situation. They’re willing to negotiate in good faith, which I appreciate, and the country appreciates. Meanwhile, the House Majority leader has shown he shouldn’t even be at the table. And Republicans agree he shouldn’t be at the table,” Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday.

McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said the onus remains on Obama.

“If the president wants to threaten seniors or veterans or rattle the world economy by pretending he can’t pay our bills, he of course can do that. But he is not going implicate Republicans in these efforts,” the Kentucky lawmaker said. “If the president would rather default than cut back on the size and scope of government, let him explain that. If he and the Democratic Senate would rather spend up into oblivion, they can certainly do that. But don’t expect any more cover from Republicans on it that you got on healthcare.”

Kathleen Hennessey and Peter Nicholas contributed to this report.


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