Emerging from what he described as "a very constructive meeting" with congressional leaders, President Obama today said his staff and theirs will be working through the weekend to come up with a budget compromise "so the full faith and credit of the United States is not impaired."
In a hastily scheduled statement at the White House briefing room, Obama said the bipartisan group agreed that a deal to raise the debt ceiling must be reached soon. "Everybody acknowledged that we have to get this done before the hard deadline of Aug. 2," he said. And he said there also consensus that "there is going to be pain involved politically."
Obama said he and congressional leaders plan to reconvene Sunday 'with the expectation that at that point the parties will at least know where each others' bottom lines are. "Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to," the president said, in an apparent reference to reports of partial deals. "The parties are still far apart on a wide range of issues."
But he added the meeting demonstrated "a spirit of compromise."
Earlier Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, informed fellow House Republicans that the chances of congressional leaders and President Obama reaching a tentative debt-ceiling deal within 48 hours are "maybe 50-50."
That prognosis from Boehner was relayed by several House Republicans as they left a morning briefing with the speaker -- and later confirmed by a GOP leadership aide.
"I get the impression that it's better than 50-50," said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. "It will be agreed upon in the next 48 hours; if not, it won't be for a long time."
In a separate interview, freshman Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., also said that he came away from the meeting believing a deal in the next 48 hours is "50-50."
But if not, he said, there was a sense that negotiations could come unglued. "It will get done quickly, or not for a long time," said Long.
They and other Republicans, such as Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said few specifics were unveiled to them during the conference meeting, although they said Boehner did reiterate that Republicans "aren't interested in raising taxes."
Franks, who is one of the most conservative members of the House, said that he understands the squeeze in which Boehner finds himself, having to negotiate such a deal with the president and Democratic leaders while also having to contend with the demands inside his conference.
But Franks said it is his understanding there are clear indications a proposed deal was in the works, and that "I got the sense that, this July 18 work period [recess], that members should carefully consider their scheduling for signs of flexibility."