No Deal Reached on Spending Bill

Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:17pm

Updated: 11:51 p.m.

President Barack Obama said he had a “frank” and “constructive” meeting with Congressional leaders late Wednesday night in an effort to break a political logjam over a six-month spending bill.

At a news conference following the Oval Office sit-down with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Obama said the three leaders were able to “narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding.” But Boehner, speaking to reporters after the president, made clear that a deal had not been reached.

Obama expected work to continue through the night, and he said that he would check in with the negotiators in the morning.

“If we haven’t made progress, we’re going to go back at it again,” he said. “And we’re going to keep on pounding away at this thing because I’m absolutely convinced that we can get this done. There’s no reason why we should not be able to complete a deal. There’s no reason why we should have a government shutdown.”

The three men also met Tuesday morning in the hopes of spurring negotiations on the spending bill and averting a government shutdown. The government is currently being funded by a continuing resolution that expires Friday.

Reid and Boehner appeared together to deliver remarks to reporters after Obama, and both said the talks had been productive. The three spoke briefly and did not take questions.

“It was very honest. We’ve narrowed the issues significantly,” said Reid, who confirmed that staff members would meet through the night to try to craft a deal on the spending bill.

Boehner acknowledged that the meeting was helpful. “We did have a productive conversation this evening,” the Speaker said. “We do have some honest differences, but I do think we’ve made some progress.”

But Boehner stressed that significant distance remains. “There’s no agreement on a number, and there’s no agreement on the policy riders,” he said.

Despite Boehner’s reservations, Obama said he remains confident that a deal can be reached, but it will “require a sufficient sense of urgency from all the parties involved.”

A shutdown would have “ramifications all across this economy,” Obama said, adding that a collapse of the talks “would be inexcusable given the relatively narrow differences.”

The House had been scheduled to wrap up business for the week on Thursday afternoon, but House Republicans warned their Members on Wednesday that they should expect to work through the end of the week in order to resolve the budget situation.