President Obama’s emergency meeting Wednesday night with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid failed to come up with a deal to avert a looming government shutdown. President Obama had attended campaign events in Pennsylvania and New York during the day, believing an agreement was close, but later called the two “to the White House for a meeting that would start minutes after he returned from New York.” Afterward, Boehner and Reid sounded as if they were getting closer:
After trading public accusations earlier in the day, Boehner and Reid sounded a far more conciliatory tone Wednesday night. “I have confidence that we can get this done,” Reid said, adding that the group had “narrowed the issues significantly.”
Boehner, who has not made a joint appearance with Reid on a legislative matter in recent memory, agreed that “some progress” had been made and “there’s an intent on both sides . . . to work together to try to resolve this.”
Obama, making a late-night appearance before reporters, was also hopeful:
Obama emerged before reporters to declare his differences with the House Republicans were narrowing but both sides were still stuck in an impasse.
“I thought the meetings were frank, they were constructive, and what they did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding,” Obama said.
At the same time, though, Boehner made sure to emphasize that there’s “no agreement on a number, and there’s no agreement on the policy questions.” And even if the two sides can reach a deal before Saturday, it’s unlikely that they could get it through both houses of Congress before the deadline. Though Republicans will vote on a one-week extension bill in the House today, Democrats aren’t on board with the idea, especially since it includes things like “an unrelated provision to ban federal and local government funding for abortions in the District.” By offering up such a bill, Democrats accuse Boehner of merely trying to absolve themselves of blame in the event of a shutdown, which is looking less likely with every optimistic quote from Boehner, Reid, and Obama, but more likely with every hour that passes without a budget deal.
Update: This morning, Reid said he was much less optimistic about a deal, despite agreement on how much to cut, because of the GOP’s inclusion of policy riders dealing with abortion and the environment: