Boehner calls for U.S. debt deal within a month

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Washington needs to wrap up a deal to increase the U.S. borrowing authority within a month to avoid rattling financial markets, House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday.

Boehner told reporters he is “ready to proceed” in talks with President Barack Obama and called on him to get more involved.

But the top U.S. Republican reiterated that “significant reductions in spending and changes to the budget process” had to be included in any deal to raise the Treasury Department’s borrowing authority, which now stands at $14.3 trillion.

Boehner spoke to reporters several hours after he and other House Republicans met with Obama to talk about deficit-cutting. Boehner called those talks “frank, polite, to the point.”

In later saying that he now was ready to plunge into talks with Obama, Boehner stopped short of saying the deficit-reduction negotiations headed by Vice President Joe Biden should be abandoned in favor of Obama-Boehner talks.

“I’m not going to set the parameters on how we ought to proceed,” Boehner said.

Asked whether he was satisfied with the progress of the Biden talks, which include a bipartisan group of six members of the House and Senate, Boehner said, “The issues they’re dealing with have to be dealt with. They’re making some marginal progress but at the rate that that’s going, we’ll be right up against the wall.”

The Treasury Department says it needs to have its borrowing authority raised by Aug. 2 or risk some sort of government default.

Boehner urged speeding up the negotiating process in order to avoid financial market upheavals.

“This really needs to be done over the next month if we’re serious about no brinksmanship, no rattling investors,” he said.

Boehner also said that “nobody out there believes the U.S. is going to default on its debt.” (Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Bill Trott)