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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Angry Obama Calls Urgent Budget Meeting With House and Senate Leaders

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Frustrated Obama calls leaders back to White House
By Marc Ambinder
National Journal
April 6, 2011
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President Obama has called House and Senate leaders back to the White House on Wednesday evening for an urgent meeting on the budget, a White House official said.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said through a spokesman that he will attend.
The nighttime summit comes just days before the federal government will shut down unless a stopgap measure or an appropriations bill funding the remainder of the fiscal year can be passed and signed into law.
Earlier today, Obama and  Boehner had a three-minute phone call to discuss the budget impasse, which both sides described as productive. Boehner told Obama that another meeting wasn't necessary, but this afternoon, Boehner suggested that the House wanted to vote on a one-week extension - a position that the Senate Democrats have already rejected.
A Democrat familiar with the negotiations said that Obama reacted angrily when he read news reports that Republicans cheered at the mention of a shutdown during their conference meeting.
Obama "has now decided that not enough progress has been made and therefore he has invited the speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader to the White House at 8:45 p.m. this evening," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One. Obama is on the road today, attending events in New York and Philadelphia. He will return to the White House at 8:00 p.m.
"There wouldn't be a meeting tonight if it wasn't necessary to try to move this forward," a Democrat familiar with the talks told National Journal. "The president said he would invite leaders in if that was the right step and what is clear is that this step is needed."
This morning, both sides hinted that there had been progress, with Democrats suggesting that Boehner had agreed in principle to $40 billion worth of cuts through the end of the year. His spokesperson would not confirm that. Senate Democrats continued to insist that the $33 billion they've offered up represents significant concessions on their part.
Behind the scenes, staffers for the Democratic and Republican leaders continued to try and hash out an agreement. The administration earlier today applied its own pressure, releasing a list of popular programs that would be closed in the event of a shutdown, including events as small and well loved as the annual Cherry Blossom Festival Parade held at this time each year in Washington, D.C.
Yesterday, an insistent Obama vowed to call negotiators back to the White House if talks broke down.
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