In yet another sign that negotiations on avoiding a government shutdown aren’t going well, House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday echoed comments made earlier by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the parties were slipping further away from an agreement.
Republican and Democratic leaders met with President Obama late into the night Wednesday, and both sides emerged with reports of optimism for a deal.
Not so the next morning.
“I think we were closer to a number last night than we are this morning,” Boehner, Republican of Ohio, told reporters Thursday, just moments after Reid took to the Senate floor to report that talks were falling apart. “We made some progress last night, or at least I thought we did,” Boehner continued. “But when I see what the White House has to offer today, it’s really just more of the same.”
Party leaders from both sides are staking out their positions in anticipation for a battle over how to fund the government through the fiscal year that probably won’t be reached until near midnight Friday, the last moment before the government shuts down.
The Republican-led House will pass a bill Thursday afternoon to buy more time for negotiations. The bill, which Obama has promised to veto and Reid called a “nonstarter,” would fund the government one more week, include $12 billion in cuts and keep the military funded at current levels until Sept. 30.
Reid said that the “only” thing holding up an agreement is two items in the GOP proposal — one that restricts abortion funding in the District of Columbia and another that restricts the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. Boehner denied it outright, saying, “There’s far more than one provision that’s holding up any agreement.”
Reid, who will meet again with Boehner and Obama in the White House this afternoon, accused Boehner of negotiating in bad faith. When asked if he is questing whether Republicans want a deal at all, Reid said flatly: “Yes, I am.”
In the case that the parties can reach an agreement, Democratic leaders said they would be open to a short-term extension to give time to work out details, but only if it did not include any cuts.
Meanwhile, CNN reported Thursday afternoon that congressional staffers were already receiving furlough notices in preparation for a shutdown, which would, if no deal is reached, occur at midnight on Friday.
Alex Brown contributed to this report.