WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama pressured Republican lawmakers on Saturday to agree to raise the US debt ceiling for longer than they would prefer, as their fiscal impasse dragged into the weekend with five days left to find a deal.
The budget battle between Obama and Republicans who control the House of Representatives has idled hundreds of thousands of government workers hit by a 12-day government shutdown and put the United States at risk of a historic debt default, possibly by next Thursday, unless the borrowing limit is raised.
With the potential of an economic calamity looming, Obama and his Republican opponents are trying to agree on how long to extend the debt ceiling, with Republicans wanting to limit the extension to six weeks to try force more concessions out of the president.
Obama made clear in his weekly address Saturday that he wants a longer debt ceiling extension to get the US economy through the holiday shopping season without a convulsive shock. Republicans want a commitment to broader deficit-reduction talks from the White House.
"It wouldn't be wise, as some suggest, to kick the debt ceiling can down the road for a couple of months, and flirt with a first-ever intentional default right in the middle of the holiday shopping season," Obama said.