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Obama, Boehner, Reid upbeat after late-night budget meeting

Apr. 7, 2011 - 03:48PM   |  
By DAVID JACKSON, USA TODAY   |   Comments
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, left, and House Speaker John Boehner speak late April 6 after meeting with President Obama at the White House.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, left, and House Speaker John Boehner speak late April 6 after meeting with President Obama at the White House. (Nicholas Kamm / Agence France-Presse)

President Obama said late Wednesday he had "a productive meeting" with congressional lawmakers and expressed hope they can reach a budget deal needed to avert a government shutdown at midnight Friday.

"A government shutdown has real consequences for real people," Obama told reporters at the White House after the hour-plus Oval Office negotiating session. "There is no reason we should not be able to get a deal."

Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., both of whom made brief statements at the White House saying they are close to a budget agreement.

"We narrowed the issues significantly," Reid said. "Our staffs will work through the night."

Boehner said no deal has been reached, but said "I do believe we made some progress."

Obama also said the issues have been narrowed, and that he expected officials to work through the night. If further progress is not made by Thursday morning, Obama said he will call Boehner and Reid back to the White House.

None of the lawmakers cited specifics from their meeting.

Obama scheduled Wednesday's meeting after Boehner told House Republicans he may bring forth a plan Thursday to extend government funding for a week while negotiators continued working on a longer-term budget.

"The Speaker reinforced that he will continue to fight for the largest spending cuts possible and reminded members that this debate is only a prelude to even larger challenges that lie ahead to reduce spending and create a better environment for job creation in America," said a readout from Boehner's office.

During a town hall earlier Wednesday in Pennsylvania, Obama warned congressional lawmakers that a government shutdown would damage economic recovery. He said the impact would range from a closure of national parks to a lack of federal business loans and mortgage assistance.

"I do not want to see Washington politics stand in the way of American progress," Obama said in Fairless Hills, Pa., not far from Philadelphia.

If the White House and congressional Republicans are unable to reach a budget agreement by Friday, the continuing resolution funding the federal government will expire and the government will shut down except for essential services.

While Boehner floated the idea of a one-week continuing resolution, Obama and Reid said that there have been too many of those already. Reid said earlier Wednesday, before meeting with Obama and Boehner, that the U.S. "shouldn't have to live paycheck to paycheck."

"We want to avoid a shutdown and the terrible consequences that would follow," Reid said. "The only thing Republicans are trying to avoid is making tough choices."

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