As the first US government shutdown in 17 years drags on into its eleventh day and attracts more criticism, U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking a longer-term debt ceiling deal with Republicans on Capitol Hill.
A short-term debt limit deal would put the United States in the same situation like the current fiscal impasse, White House spokesman Jay Carney told Friday's daily news briefing.
Before a White House meeting with Obama on Thursday, U.S. House Republicans floated an idea of a six-week debt ceiling increase to avert a debt default crisis. But the plan did not touch upon ending the government shutdown, a policy priority for Obama.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has told Congress that the federal government will reach its debt ceiling of 16.7 trillion U.S. dollars by Thursday and that failure to raise it would lead to a catastrophic default.
"The president appreciates the constructive nature of the conversation and of the proposal that House Republicans put forward. He has some concerns with it," Carney said.
"A proposal that puts a debt ceiling increase at only six weeks tied to budget negotiations would put us right back where we are today in just six weeks, on the verge of Thanksgiving and the obviously important shopping season leading up to the holidays," Carney said.
Obama on Friday spoke by telephone with House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and they agreed to continue the fiscal talks.
The phone call is seen as a positive sign for ending the fiscal deadlock.
Obama was also talking with Republican lawmakers in the Senate. Republican Senator Susan Collins has floated a plan to reopen the government, lift the debt ceiling for up to three months, repeal medical device tax, and provide governmental departments with greater flexibility in implementing the ongoing spending cuts, the so-called "sequester."
The 2.3-percent medical device tax, which took effect in January, is levied on manufacturers and importers for sales of medical devices in the nation to fund the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
"I would say that a number of lawmakers in the Senate as well as the House have expressed views that are constructive, in our estimation. Senator Collins is one of them," Carney said.
Any final fiscal deal has to sail through both the Senate and the House and has to be signed by Obama to become law. House Republicans will meet on Saturday to mull their next move.
Obama on Friday also spoke by phone to nearly 150 top U.S. business leaders about the fiscal talks.
"The president reiterated that his first order of business is to urge Congress to reopen the government and remove the threat of default, and then he is willing to engage with Congress on a long-term budget," the White House said in a readout of the phone call.
When Lew is attending the ongoing annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, many officials are voicing their concerns over the lingering U.S. fiscal gridlock.
Addressing the plenary session of the annual meetings on Friday, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said, "The political gridlock today in Washington and the looming deadline on the U.S. debt ceiling is starting to unsettle global markets. We urge policymakers in Washington to come to a resolution as quickly as possible to avoid what could be catastrophic impacts from a default."
IMF chief Christine Lagarde has expressed similar concerns in recent days.
Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao urged the United States to solve its debt problem thoroughly and avoid dampening the global economy. A potential U.S. debt default will likely impact the U.S. economy in a big way and will become a major drag on the global economy, he told Chinese reporters Friday on the sidelines of the annual meetings.
China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities, with its holdings of about 1.28 trillion dollars in July, according to figures from the U.S. Treasury Department.