Updated at 1:27 p.m. ET
President Obama had a rare, hour-long private meeting with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Tuesday in the Oval Office, though both sides have said little about what was discussed beyond noting that the conversation included a range of issues.
According to the White House and Boehner's office, the subjects including the Affordable Care Act, Afghanistan, appropriations, manufacturing, trade promotion authority, the California drought, wildfire suppression, and infrastructure and highway funding, among other things.
“They agreed that there is a lot work to do the rest of the year, and it is important to work together wherever we can find common ground," an aide to Boehner said. White House press secretary Jay Carney similarly called it a "good and constructive meeting."
Boehner and the president once seemed like the unlikely couple that might be able to craft a grand bargain of tax and entitlement reforms to put the nation on a fresh fiscal course. But time and time again, they have come up short at the finish.
Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck told Reuters that the president initiated the meeting, during which the two leaders will discuss a “broad set of topics.” It’s been more than a year since they last met alone, while bargaining over ways to avert the fiscal cliff at the end of 2012.
With Congress still divided and in the midst of an election year, it is unlikely that either Mr. Obama or Boehner will see their priorities go anywhere. The president is seeking a minimum wage increase, an extension of unemployment benefits and comprehensive immigration reform, among other things, and the House speaker has pushed for the president to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and for the Senate to approve bills on various job-creation measures.
Boehner also said recently that the House can’t pass an immigration overhaul anytime soon, because members don’t trust the president to enforce even the existing laws.
There is one issue the two leaders agree on: trade promotion authority, or the ability to fast-track trade bills through Congress with limited debate and no amendments. But Democrats fear that two pending trade deals with Asia and Europe could harm American jobs and manufacturing as well as the environment, and have said they aren't interested in letting any deals fly through Congress.