Growing irked by the prolonged negotiations, Obama demanded that the congressional leaders “act like grown-ups.”
“If they can’t sort it out, then I want them back here tomorrow. And if that doesn’t work, we’ll invite them again the day after that,” Obama told reporters in a rare appearance in the press room, hours after the meeting.
The president invited congressional leaders back to the White House on Wednesday, but he is scheduled to spend much of the day traveling and, as of late Tuesday, no meeting had been finalized.
Boehner, who watched Obama’s remarks in his Capitol suites, pledged to keep talking. His aides deflected reports that the speaker is setting a new target of $40 billion in cuts, but he also rejected the $33 billion figure that Republican leaders in the House and Democratic leaders in the Senate had been working toward.
“There was no agreement, so those conversations will continue. We made clear that we’re fighting for the largest spending cuts possible,” Boehner told reporters moments after Obama spoke.
Reid continued to accuse Republicans of not being “fair and reasonable” in their demands for higher cuts and specific changes to social and regulatory policies. Asked if he would be willing to reach $40 billion in cuts, however, Reid demurred.
“I’m not negotiating here what we’re going to do ultimately,” he told reporters.
A late-day meeting between Boehner and Reid in the speaker’s office produced no breakthroughs, but aides to both lawmakers issued identical statements calling it “a productive discussion” — a significant shift in tone after a week in which the two traded accusations across the Capitol.
Reid closed the Senate chamber Tuesday evening with an optimistic speech describing “good faith” talks that are “not that far apart.”
“The government is not going to shut down — yet. There’s still air in the tire; at least we still have some miles to travel. I hope we have enough air in the tire to get us where we need to go,” he said.
A few days left
Without any resolution — either through a full spending plan or another short-term extension — the federal government would shut down at midnight Friday, with the full impact coming when the workweek resumes Monday.
Many of the most immediate effects of a shutdown would be felt in Washington, where the Smithsonian museums and other tourist sites would close, keeping as many as 500,000 visitors locked out of the city’s main attractions, according to senior government officials. If the impasse continues until Monday, a slew of other services would be halted, including the processing of tax refunds.