US & Canada

Obama and Boehner team up for golf win

(L-R) John Kasich, John Boehner, Joe Biden, Barack Obama
Image caption The high-powered quartet teed off at Andrews military base in Maryland

US President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner made a winning team on the golf course - with federal budget discussion likely to have taken place between the shots.

They teamed up to beat Vice-President Joe Biden and Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich at a military base outside Washington DC.

The game was touted as an opportunity to socialise and discuss the budget.

Republicans want spending cuts with the deficit poised to hit $1.4tr (£865bn).

White House officials said Mr Obama and Mr Boehner clinched victory over their opponents on the 18th hole of the match, each pocketing a $2 prize.

All four then went from the 18th green to the clubhouse to enjoy a cold drink and to visit service members at the base.

The game took place amid a dispute between the White House and Congress over the legality of the US role in the Nato-led mission in Libya.

This week, Mr Boehner told the White House that US support for Nato's mission in Libya violated a US war powers law limiting military action without congressional approval to 60 days.

The White House on Thursday responded with a letter to Congress insisting President Obama did not need congressional approval, because the military campaign was limited in scope.

Late on Friday, the New York Times reported President Obama had overruled the advice of two senior administration lawyers in taking that position.

But the report noted President Obama was free to disregard the advice of the White House office of legal counsel.

'Difficult tradeoffs'

The high-profile match had teed off under sunny skies at around 1000 (1400 GMT).

Mr Biden sank a 15ft (4.5m) putt at the first, prompting President Obama to call to reporters: "Did you all catch that?"

In Washington at least, the anticipation for the political golf outing overshadowed the third round of the US Open, which is being held at the Congressional Country Club in the suburbs of the city.

Correspondents said Mr Biden had been favourite to win - he is ranked 29 in the Golf Digest list of Washington's top 150 golfers.

Mr Boehner is ranked 43, while the president - better known for his love of the basketball court than the golf course - is rated 108.

The magazine also estimates President Obama's handicap at 17, Mr Biden's at 6.3 and Mr Boehner's at 7.9.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Thursday that though raising the $14.29tn debt ceiling was likely to be a subtext to the game, it was unlikely the men would come to any resolutions during the game.

"I think I can say with great confidence that they will not wrap up the 18th hole and come out and say that we have a deal," he said.

Earlier in the day, Vice-President Biden - who has been leading attempts to craft a deal with Republicans - told reporters that Democrats and Republicans had tentatively agreed on several federal spending cuts.

They were preparing for difficult trade-offs that could lead to trillions of dollars in savings, Mr Biden said.

Biden and top Democrats and Republicans both hope to reduce the federal budget by $4tn over the next 10 years to allow lawmakers to raise the debt ceiling to prevent a default.

The US treasury department has warned that the US risks default if Congress does not authorise more borrowing by August.

But Republicans have refused to allow tax increases, while Democrats have vowed to protect social programmes.

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