President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner talked about pending political battles before the congressional recess, but White House officials declined to detail the conversation.
Any contact between the two leaders could be critical, because they’re expected this fall to negotiate important budget deals, to clash over delays to Obamacare, and to kill or approve a controversial and transformative rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws.
“My sense is they spoke about a variety of the issues that are coming up for action by Congress,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
“I’m sure that would include immigration reform, as well as some of the economic initiatives the President would like Congress to take up… and obviously, the budget issues that we have to deal with in the fall,” he said.
The two talked “shortly before the [House] went on recess, Carney added. “I think it was within the last week.”
Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, told The Daily Caller on Sunday that the talk took place, but he declined to provide any details.
Early this year, Boehner swore off future closed-door negotiations with Obama, after Obama used his post-election clout, plus his allies in the media, to force a tax increase through Congress.
The political fights this fall are expected to be critical for the president, whose declining approval ratings fell to 41 percent late this week, only 3 points above his record low in mid-October 2011, according to Gallup. The poll, which averages 1,500 daily responses over three days, also showed a 51 percent disapproval rate.
Unless Obama scores a real or symbolic political victory this fall, his ratings may decline enough to wreck his ambitious political plans and ruin his chances of winning a Democratic majority in the House in November 2014.
The poor economy is a primary driver of the president’s declining poll numbers. In early July Gallup and Quinnipiac polls indicated Obama’s economic and immigration policies are also contributing to his sagging popularity.