President Obama holds a press conference on the debt ceiling at 11:30 am ET today. NBC News reports that he will announce the US is sending drones and surveillance equipment to support the French in Mali. [No announcement of help for the French was made, NBC news was wrong - ed.]
Julie Pace of AP: Even Harry Reid says no gun control bill could pass Congress. So what’s the next step?
Obama gives process answer about “steps that are being taken” — meetings, reports, presentations about “what should we be doing.” He’ll give them details of what he wants to see. Stronger background checks & ban on assault weapons seem to top his list, but he agrees he doesn’t know if they’ll pass Congress.
Chuck Todd: Reid sent you a letter begging you to take executive action on debt ceiling. Even Clyburn said this morning he should use 14th Amendment. Do you intend to take executive action, and if not why not?
Obama: Simple solution – Congress authorizes us to pay our bills. If Congress wants to put the responsibility on me to do it, as Mitch McConnell wanted last year, I’m happy to do that.
Major Garrett does his part to Fox-ize CBS news. Shorter Major Garrett: “aren’t you being the unreasonable one here?”
Jonathan Karl: Since Congress won’t do anything about gun control, do you plan to use your power as President to do something? And what do you make of long lines even at Connecticut gun shows?
Obama: I’m confident that there are steps we could take, for instance on how we gather data that fall into the hands of criminals. (Not sure the school shooting would’ve been stopped by this.)
Juliana Goldman, Bloomberg (Mrs. David Shuster): Every time you said you’d never compromise with the Republicans, you have. Why should they take you seriously now?
Obama: You shouldn’t have one narrow faction that holds government hostage unless they get everything they want. In other words, you’ve got to stop the habit of legislating through crisis.
Matt Spitalnik, Reuters: Are you willing for the government to grind to a halt, and who do you think the American people would blame?
Obama: If the GOP in the House does not want to pay our bills, they have the votes to do it. I imagine the people would blame all of Washington for not being able to get its act together.
Jackie Calms, NYT: You have a less diverse White House staff than you did when you took office. How do you think that will impact things? And how do you respond to criticism that you don’t socialize enough, esp with members of Congress?
Obama: Wait until you see all of my appointments before you rush to judgment. And, most people know I’m a friendly guy. Some of the paralysis in Washington have to do with very sharp differences in policy. I like John Boehner & other GOP, but it doesn’t prevent them from going on to the floor of the house and calling me a big spending Socialist. And, Charlie Crist make them all fearful of looking like they’re chummy with the President. Since my daughters don’t want to spend time with me any more maybe the House GOP would like to come over and play cards.