Washington, Oct 11 — President Barack Obama and the House Republicans failed to reach a deal on ending the prolonged government shutdown or raising the federal debt limit, but for once they have agreed to keep talking.
Hopes of progress were raised Thursday when Republicans took to Obama a plan to raise the debt limit for six weeks to avoid a default when US runs out of cash Oct 17 in return for talks on reducing deficit even as they declined to end the shutdown, now in its 11th day.
But after a 90-minute meeting at the White House, the two sides remained at an impasse with Obama insisting that Republicans reopen federal agencies before negotiations over broader budget issues can begin.
Both sides, however, described the White House session as “good” and “useful” and agreed to keep talking to find a way out.
Emerging from the White House session John Boehner, speaker of the Republican controlled House, did not talk to reporters, but when the group returned to the Capitol, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, told reporters the talks had been productive.
“After a discussion about potential paths forward, no specific determination was made,” the White House said in a statement. “The President looks forward to making continued progress with members on both sides of the aisle.”
“The President’s goal remains to ensure we pay the bills we’ve incurred, reopen the government and get back to the business of growing the economy, creating jobs and strengthening the middle class.”
A spokesman for Boehner issued a similar statement saying communication would continue throughout the night.
“House Republicans remain committed to good faith negotiations with the president, and we are pleased there was an opportunity to sit down and begin a constructive dialogue tonight,” the statement said.
“We had a very useful meeting. It was clarifying, I think, to both sides as to where we are. And the takeaway from the meeting was, our teams are going to be talking further tonight,” Cantor said.
“We’ll have more discussion. We will come back to have more discussion,” he said. “The President said that he would go and consult with the administration folks, and hopefully we can see a way forward after that.”
The 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who is chairman of the House Budget Committee, said that president said neither yes nor no to the Republican proposal.
The major sticking point appeared to be Obama and Democrats’ unwillingness to decouple the debt ceiling from the government shutdown, which would not end under the Republican proposal.
Earlier asked about the Republican proposal after a Senate Democrats’ meeting with Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said emphatically “it’s not going to happen.”
“Let’s wait and see what the House does,” Reid said. “When they send us something, we’ll look at it as clearly and as closely as we can, under the same determination that we’ve made: Open the government.”
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])