President Obama and congressional leaders Wednesday evening held their first face-to-face meeting since the government shut down but emerged no closer to a compromise with both sides refusing to budge from their entrenched positions.
During a meeting with Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Obama said he would not negotiate with Republicans over fiscal issues unless they passed a clean funding bill to end the government shutdown.
Republicans called such a demand untenable.
“The president reiterated one more time that he will not negotiate,” Boehner told reporters at the White House after the 90-minute meeting. “At some point, we have to allow the process our founding fathers gave us to work out.”
“My friend, John Boehner, cannot take 'yes' for an answer,” Reid complained, insisting that he threw the Republican a “lifeline” on keeping the government funded but was shot down.
“If they keep moving the goalposts … then I can only conclude they want to shut down the government,” added Pelosi.
The lack of a breakthrough ensures the government shutdown will head into a third day, and comes as the next fiscal crisis, an Oct. 17th deadline to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, nears. That deadline could potentially force leaders to simultaneously pass a funding bill and a hike to the debt limit.
Obama has already begun an effort to pressure Republicans on the debt ceiling, telling Wall Street it should be “concerned” about the prospect of a default. The president met with leaders from the financial industry on Wednesday and they urged Congress to quickly raise the debt ceiling.
Analysts say the debt-limit debate will have a much larger impact on the overall economy.
The government shut down on Monday after House Republicans tied funding bills to measures delaying or defunding Obamacare. The Democratic Senate rejected those measures and Obama has vowed to veto any attempt to block his healthcare reforms.
Republicans insist that Obama negotiate over the shutdown and debt limit in hopes of forcing deeper spending cuts and entitlement reforms. But the president has said he will not negotiate on budget issues until Congress passes a “clean” continuing resolution and raises the debt limit.
The House on Wednesday passed “piecemeal” spending bills targeting particular programs in an effort to reopen parts of the government.
The measures restoring funds to the District of Columbia, National Institutes of Health and the National Park Service though are unlikely to pass in the Senate, where Reid is insisting on a comprehensive, single continuing resolution.
This story was published at 7:21 p.m. and has been updated.