President Obama will meet Friday with congressional leaders to discuss the sequester, set to take effect the same day. (AFP / Getty Images)
President Obama will meet with congressional leaders on Friday, the day that $85 billion in automatic budget cuts are set to take effect.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., confirmed the meeting in a statement Wednesday, calling Friday’s scheduled session “an opportunity for us to visit with the President about how we can all keep our commitment to reduce Washington spending.”
Obama is slated to meet with McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, as well as the top two Democrats in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Friday, March 1, is the first day of “the sequester,” the $85 billion in automatic domestic and defense cuts that has triggered the latest budget standoff between the White House and congressional Republicans.
In repeated public appearances, Obama has called on congressional Republicans to avoid the sequester by signing off on a new debt reduction plan that would include budget cuts and higher taxes. The latter would come by closing tax loopholes and ending deductions that benefit the wealthy, Obama has said.
Republicans oppose any tax hike, saying it would slow the economy; they have called on Obama to use “flexibility” in determining where to cut, to spare essential services.
In his statement, McConnell said spending should be the issue in tackling the nation’s $16.6 trillion debt.
“We can either secure those reductions more intelligently, or we can do it the President’s way with across-the board cuts,” McConnell said. “But one thing Americans simply will not accept is another tax increase to replace spending reductions we already agreed to.”
David Jackson writes for USA TODAY.