U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) cast a negative light on ongoing negotiations to strike a budget deal, saying Friday no agreement with Democrats is "imminent" and he didn't see differences between the two parties narrowing in recent days.
The comments from the top House Republican come as congressional leaders and President Barack Obama have pledged to work through the weekend to try to bridge their differences and reach a compromise that could result in up to $4 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade and a required increase of the country's debt ceiling.
Boehner said that he didn't know what the outlook of the weekend's high-stakes negotiations would be, but stressed that there was no deal between him and the president "in public or private."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) meanwhile said on Friday that he had cancelled a scheduled week-long House recess and would require lawmakers to remain in Washington. A statement from his office said the House would vote on a constitutional amendment requiring Congress to balance the federal budget the week of July 18, when lawmakers were supposed to be on recess.
While that measure could be approved in the House where Republicans enjoy a strong majority, there is almost no chance it would be taken up by the Senate, where Democratic leaders oppose the move.
Top aides to the congressional leaders and the administration are continuing to plough through the details that would form the contours of an agreement and their bosses are set to gather at the White House on Sunday to determine what progress has been made.
Congress is staring down the barrel of an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the country's $14.29 trillion statutory borrowing limit to avoid the potential of the U.S. defaulting to its creditors.
Both parties' leaders have agreed that no increase is likely without substantial spending reductions to try to rein in burgeoning federal budget deficits.
Boehner was speaking at a press conference with other Republican leaders about the dismal jobs report that was released by the Department of Labor Friday morning. The country's unemployment rate ticked up to 9.2% while the economy added only 18,000 jobs, barely any new hiring for the second month in a row.
The GOP leader said the report underlined the urgency of striking a deal to ensure the Aug. 2 deadline is met.
Boehner said that he had always favored striving for the largest possible deal in the talks with Democrats, but appeared to express little confidence that could be achieved.
"It's not like there's some imminent deal about to happen," he said.
Just Thursday, Boehner told a meeting of House Republicans that he saw the chances of an agreement being reached by the end of the weekend standing at 50:50.