Speaker John A. Boehner tempered expectations for deals on the budget and the farm bill Thursday, saying neither issue appears to be poised for conclusion.
At his weekly press conference, the Ohio Republican told reporters "there's clearly no agreement" on a budget from the two chief negotiators, House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. Their self-imposed deadline to reach a deal is Dec. 13, and sources indicated on Wednesday that an agreement could be announced in the coming days.
Boehner didn't say whether he planned to move forward with passing a short-term continuing resolution next week to float government funding past Jan. 15, though he told his members last week that he would do so if necessary in order to take the threat of another government shutdown off the table.
As for the farm bill, Boehner said, "I've not seen any real progress," and signaled that the House was prepared to pass a one-month extension of current funding for agriculture and nutrition programs to buy farm bill conferees more time.
Boehner's remarks come a day after the four senior farm bill negotiators emerged from a closed-door meeting expressing new-found optimism that all the conferees would be able to sign off on an agreement, paving the way for passage of a conference report at the start of the 2014 legislative session.
House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said earlier this week that he saw no reason to begin writing a stop-gap spending bill at this time, anticpiating that the budget conferees are getting closer every minute to a deal that would provide lawmakers with a higher topline number to write appropriations bills.
Rogers said he believed that under that scenario, he would have all 12 2014 appropriations bills ready to pass the House before the current CR expires in mid-January.
But time is running out: Boehner is set to adjourn the House for 2013 in just five more legislative days.
"I've been clear that the House is going to leave next Friday, and you all know me pretty well," Boehner said. "I mean what I say and I say what I mean."