A meeting between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is unlikely before the October deadline to avoid a government shutdown, a top aide to the GOP leader said on Tuesday, further diminishing the chances for a last-second deal.
“President has decided to sit this one out,” Brendan Buck, a Boehner spokesman, told the Washington Examiner. “So [we’ll] move forward without him.”
Buck’s comments come as a deadline nears to pass a spending bill to keep government funded and avoid an Oct. 1 shutdown. Lawmakers must also raise the nation’s debt limit by mid-October to avert a default.
President Obama is in New York on Tuesday addressing the United Nations General Assembly. He also has a health care speech planned for Thursday in Maryland, creating an even smaller window for a gathering with his Republican rivals.
On Monday, the White House said a meeting between the president and Hill leadership was “likely” in coming days.
The White House did not immediately respond to requests for a reaction to Buck’s statement.
Obama recently reached out to Boehner by phone to inform him that he would not negotiate over raising the nation's debt ceiling and would oppose any bill that blocked funding for Obamacare.
The House passed a spending bill last week that would keep the government funded through mid-December but which strips funding for healthcare reform. That measure is likely dead on arrival in the Democratic Senate raising the prospect of a shutdown.
Republicans have argued in recent days that Obama has been more willing to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Syria's chemical weapons than reach out to them about a debt deal.
The White House counters that talks with Republicans would be pointless as long as they focus on defunding Obamacare.