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A Frustrated Obama Calls Leaders Back to the White House A Frustrated Obama Calls Leaders Back to the White House

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White House / WHITE HOUSE

A Frustrated Obama Calls Leaders Back to the White House

Tonight's meeting is the latest effort to avert a government shutdown.

President Obama arrives at the White House on Wednesday after traveling to Pennsylvania and New York before holding talks with congressional leaders on avoiding a government shutdown.

photo of Marc Ambinder
April 6, 2011

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.

 

(See: What Stays Open, What Closes in Case of Shutdown)

Earlier on Wednesday, 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.

Two Democrats familiar with the negotiations said that Obama and White House officials were frusrated when they read news reports that Republicans cheered at the mention of a shutdown during their conference meeting. Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said that such a moment "flat did not happen." His account was backed by other Republicans in the meeting. They said that Republicans applauded Boehner's refusal to yield to the White House and Democratic pressure.  

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.

 

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.

(See: Pictures of Who Gets Hurt in Government Shutdown)

Yesterday, an insistent Obama vowed to call negotiators back to the White House if talks broke down.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that a plurality of Americans would blame Republicans in the event of a government shutdown, which would throw 800,000 government employees out of work. But conservatives in the House and tea party activists continued to scoff at the talk of compromise.

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