Government Shutdown: Obama Says Progress Made But No Deal Yet
UPDATED 6:30 p.m. PDT: Speaking from the White House, President Obama said Thursday night that progress has been made in budget negotiations, and he is hopeful a government shutdown is still avoidable.
Though Obama said he would like to hear of a deal by the morning he added, "I'm not yet prepared to express wild optimism."
In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "We have narrowed the issues, however, we have not yet reached an agreement. We will continue to work through the night to attempt to resolve our remaining differences."
National Journal tweeted that a Reid spokesman said, "It’s all down to women’s health."
UPDATED: 11:00 a.m. PDT: Leaders on both sides now believe a government shutdown is imminent after a budget compromise could not be reached. In part, the two parties coudn't find a common amount of spending that would need to be slashed from the budget for it to pass Congress. Obama has promised to veto a short-term spending bill that would avert the crisis another week. The leaders will meet again tonight at 4 p.m. PDT.
UPDATED 9:15 a.m. PDT: After talks broke down Wednesday night, Boehner and Reid returned to the White House Thursday morning to continue negotiations with President Obama. Politico reported that none of the three men want to see the government shut down. They're scheduled to meet again at 10 a.m. PDT.
President Obama said he is confident a government shutdown will be avoided after a meeting with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at the White House late Wednesday night.
Though no formal agreement was made, Obama said budget talks with the two top Congressional leaders were "frank" and "productive."
Obama said it would be "inexcusable" not to reach a deal and expects lawmakers from both parties to work through the night to reach a deal. He said he would check in with them on Thursday morning.
"There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to get a deal," Obama said. "There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to avoid a shutdown."
Following Obama's statement to reporters, Reid and Boehner made a joint statement outside the White House.
"We've narrowed the issues significantly," Reid said. "I have confidence we can get this done. We're not there yet but hope lies eternal."
Boehner was more cautious.
"I do think we made some progress," he said. "But I want to retiterate that there's no agreement on a number and no agreement on the policy riders."
He added, "No one wants the government to shutdown."
On CNN, former presidential adviser David Gergen said it was "symbolic" and "reassuring" that Boehner and Reid came out together.
Obama held a 90-minute meeting with Reid and Boehner at the White House Wednesday night hoping to form an agreement on the federal budget and avoid a government shutdown looming at the end of this week.
A White House official told CNN that the meeting was to "help them bridge the narrow, but important gaps that remain.”
Obama called the meeting Wednesday afternoon after it became clear to him that earlier reports of progress were not where he wanted them to be.
“They told him that they were making progress and did not need him to get involved,” the White House official said.
Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters Wednesday, "There’s been a direct negotiation — things put on the table that had not been discussed before, and I think we’re moving towards closure.”
But in a press gaggle with reporters, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president felt "not enough progress has been made.”
Another source told CNN, "There was almost no progress made today.”
The Oval Office meeting was a final attempt at compromise before the federal government is set to shutdown at midnight on Friday.
At a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania Wednesday afternoon Obama said, "I do not want to see Washington politics stand in the way of America’s progress."
He criticized Republican lawmakers for "playing games."
He spoke of the long term effects of a government shutdown saying it would "affect ordinary families day in, day out, and it affects our economy right at the time when our economy is getting momentum. We had the best jobs report we had had in a very long time this past Friday. But you know what? Companies don't like uncertainty, and if they start seeing that suddenly we may have a shutdown of our government, that could halt momentum right when we need to build it up — all because of politics."
Boehner also had some pointed words for the president, "I like the president personally. We get along well. But the president isn’t leading. He didn’t lead on last year’s budget, and he clearly isn’t leading on this year’s budget.”
The New York Times reports:
"House Republicans moved ahead with a one-week extension, including more cuts, that the White House has already rejected. Republicans hoped that passage of the measure would put pressure on Democrats in the Senate and on Mr. Obama to make concessions on spending cuts and policy changes that Republicans want in exchange for a final budget deal. But administration officials warned that a shutdown would lead to the layoffs of as many as 800,000 federal employees and hobble agencies that offer help to small businesses and homeowners.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Reid took to the Senate floor to excoriate Republicans for not agreeing to compromise budget proposals by the Democrats.
Mr. Reid accused Republicans of seeking a “shortcut around doing our jobs” by proposing another one-week, stop-gap funding measure to keep the government operating."
In a letter to Boehner, a group of 16 Senate Democrats wrote, "A government shutdown at this time will only serve as a counterproductive attack on our economic recovery. Economists note that a suspension of services would have a measurably detrimental impact on our economic output, while business leaders warn about a shutdown’s impact on confidence in the U.S. economic recovery. A setback of this nature would prevent the growth we need to tangibly address our long-term fiscal imbalances.”
Republicans and Democrats continue to speculate on which party would benefit from a shutdown, but everyone involved may end up suffering.
As POLITICO notes, "All three principals — Obama, Boehner and Reid — have been hurt politically by their own hesitance and weakness, but they have arrived at a point where they must find a way to come together or risk the embarrassment of a shutdown at a time when American troops are in combat overseas."
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