Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. speaks to a Franklin Rotary luncheon in Nashville, Tenn. Corker has been part of ongoing talks with the White House over fiscal issues.(Photo: Sanford Myers, The Tennessean)
WASHINGTON -- White House efforts to reach common ground with Senate Republicans on fiscal matters appear to have failed Thursday, with a key senator saying there is no "common ground."
The White House has been engaged for months in conversations with a group of Republican senators over fiscal issues, looking for some path toward compromise on federal spending. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30 and the Obama Administration is looking for a long term deal to replace the government-wide spending cuts known as the sequester that cut federal programs this year largely without distinction.
Congress is still on its summer recess, but White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough convened a meeting with senators Thursday that ended in no progress, Sen. Bob Corker told the Washington Post.
"It's very evident that there just isn't common ground at present and we've all agreed there's no reason for these talks to continue," said Corker, R-Tenn.
The White House had chosen to negotiate with Corker and several other more moderate senators believing that they would be share the administration's concerns about the impact of the sequester on defense programs in particular.
The White House has had no similar talks with House Republicans. Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the speaker and President Obama have not had any recent talks about the fiscal fights ahead, and there are no meetings yet scheduled.
Congress returns Sept. 9 and will immediately have to decide on how to fund the government beyond September 30. Tea Party groups and dozens of House Republicans are urging Boehner to block any spending deal that does not eliminate funding for implementing President Obama's signature health care law.
In October, Congress will also face a deadline to raise the nation's borrowing limit; without such action, the US could begin to default on debts.