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President Barack Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner met at the White House on Sunday to discuss the fiscal cliff issues, resuming their direct negotiations on the looming tax and spending measures after several days of apparent stalemate.
The White House and the speaker’s office issued a joint statement confirming the meeting but offered no details on how long Obama and Boehner met or whether they showed any progress.
“This afternoon, the president and Speaker Boehner met at the White House to discuss efforts to resolve the fiscal cliff,” they said. “We’re not reading out details of the conversation, but the lines of communication remain open.”
It was the second known time Obama and Boehner have met face to face since the president hosted congressional leaders at the White House on Nov. 16, although the two have spoken by phone at least twice in the past two weeks.
Ongoing staff level discussions resumed last week after breaking off after Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner offered a plan that included a $1.6 trillion tax hike, a package to replace the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that GOP leaders quickly rejected Nov. 29.
The two sides remain divided over raising tax rates on affluent Americans, something Obama has insisted on and Boehner has continued to resist. Republicans have sought to turn the conversation to spending cuts and restructuring of entitlement programs, which Democrats have said they are unwilling to discuss until the GOP caves on rates.
Boehner and Obama spoke on the phone Nov. 28, a day before Geithner brought the White House offer to the Hill. House GOP aides accused the White House of leaking the fact of the conversation and said Republican leaders were furious because it suggested the White House was more interested in scoring political points than engaging in a good faith bargaining effort.
Although staff members have been talking, the core of negotiations is taking place between the president and speaker. They also are consulting with other legislative leaders who would be central to selling any agreement to the Democratic and Republican caucuses.
On Friday, Obama met one-on-one with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at the White House. An aide to Pelosi described it as a “good meeting” that lasted 40 minutes. The president spoke with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., by phone on Friday as well.
An aide to Boehner said no further meetings between the president and speaker have been scheduled.