In the wake of an unusual press briefing that featured both an appearance by Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients and a brief statement by President Barack Obama, White House press secretary Jay Carney left the room to a flood of questions about what he meant when he said "we have met them halfway already," in regard to negotiations with House Republicans over a continuing resolution.
Carney said Tuesday that the White House would accept up to $8 billion in cuts in a CR that keeps the government funded for a month, but he has repeatedly criticized a seven-month plan passed by House Republicans that slashes $61 billion in spending.
"We cannot accept a proposal that does harm to our ability to grow the economy," Carney said.
The White House took its strongest stand on the debate over funding the government Wednesday when Obama issued a statement lauding Congress for passing a two-week plan, but he also called for a long-term CR as soon as possible.
"We cannot keep doing business this way. Living with the threat of a shutdown every few weeks is not responsible, and it puts our economic progress in jeopardy," Obama wrote. He has instructed Democratic and Republican leaders to meet with Vice President Joe Biden, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, and Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew to agree on a long-term resolution.
Despite a lack of enthusiasm by House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, about the meeting, Carney said he believes an initial meeting will take place soon.