WASHINGTON — Talks appear to be intensifying on Capitol Hill on reaching a deal on long-overdue legislation to finance the government through the end of September — and avoid a government shutdown. Whether a shutdown can be avoided in three days' time is another matter.
A White House meeting Tuesday that included President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., failed to produce the hoped-for breakthrough, however, with a stopgap government funding bill set to expire Friday at midnight.
Obama ratcheted up the pressure afterward, sounding exasperated with Republicans for not warming to a White House proposal that matched, more or less, an earlier GOP framework proposed in February. In it, Democrats propose cuts netting $73 billion in savings below Obama's original requests — or $33 billion below current spending levels.
Boehner said yet again that there is no agreement on a level of spending cuts. And there's been little progress on the 50-plus GOP policy "riders" dotting the House version of the measure.
"There's no reason why we should not get an agreement," Obama said. "We have now matched the number that the speaker originally sought. The only question is whether politics or ideology are going to get in the way of preventing a government shutdown."