November 2, 1995
Web posted at: 12:35 p.m. EST
From Senior White House Correspondent Wolf Blitzer
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republican leaders emerged from the White House after more than two hours with President Clinton saying they've failed, for now, to reach an agreement on raising the nation's debt ceiling limit.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that Wednesday's meeting served a purpose, nonetheless: It helped both sides understand each other. (104K AIFF sound or 104K WAV sound)
For days, the president and his senior aides have been warning of economic disaster if the $4.9 trillion debt ceiling is not raised right away. The Republicans say that they need more time to discuss the issue.
Still, it was the first time in weeks that the president received the bipartisan congressional leadership. And administration officials said that was a positive sign. "It's important that they had this discussion, one of the best the president has had," said White House press secretary Mike McCurry. (96K AIFF sound or 96K WAV sound)
Privately, officials suggested that the Republicans seemed to move a bit closer to the administration's stance by saying that they may be willing to extend the debt till early December rather than the end of November, as some Republicans had earlier proposed.
But the Republicans say that they want a prior commitment from the president that the budget will be balanced in seven years, a commitment that the president and his supporters are not yet ready to make. "There ought to be no connection, no linkage, between debt limit or any thing related to reconciliation. They are two separate issues," said Sen. Minority Leader Tom Daschle. (88K AIFF sound or 88K WAV sound)
"There is a perception among many of the Republican senators and House members that there should be linkage. In fact, it's not only perception, it is how they strongly feel," said Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. (56K AIFF sound or 56K WAV sound)
As the president was trying to reach a deal with the Republicans, he found himself in another potentially embarrassing flap. A columnist quoting him Wednesday as saying that he had "changed philosophically and missed the boat" during his first two years in office by moving way from his centrist roots. The White House said the president is disputing the quote.
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