President Obama is meeting at the White House Wednesday afternoon with House and Senate Democratic leaders, press secretary Jay Carney said. Obama will also meet with Republican House leaders afterward, a congressional aide said.
The sessions follow telephone calls by Obama to Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to update them on the progress of deficit negotiations. On Tuesday, Obama hailed the plan unveiled by the bipartisan Gang of Six legislators for deficit reduction.
"We believe there has been a significant amount of acceptance (broadly) that a balanced approach that requires compromise on all sides is the right way to go," Carney said. "We continue to push for the biggest deal possible."
The Democrats were meeting at 2:50 p.m. Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., were slated to meet with Obama at 5 p.m.
In an advisory sent out to rank-and-file House members, the office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said that a weekend legislative session “is now possible, including Saturday, July 23, and Sunday, July 24.”
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The advisory also states that the House is expected to be in legislative session “during every remaining available business day over the next two weeks, including Friday, July 29, and Monday, August 1, if needed.”
Reid announced Monday that his chamber will remain in session every day, including weekends, until a bill that resolves a dispute over the debt ceiling passes.
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The White House has refrained from endorsing specific measures outlined in the Gang of Six proposal, instead cheering it for taking a "balanced approach" that includes both spending cuts and revenue increases—which they say mirrors the grand bargain Obama and Boehner were discussing before Boehner backed out of a deal.
While Reid has said there is too little time to pass a deal resembling the Gang of Six proposal before the August 2 debt ceiling deadline, Carney signaled that Obama might sign a short-term measure to raise the deficit ceiling so long as a bigger deal has been agreed to.
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“If both sides agree to something significant we will support the measures needed to finalize details, but there is no extension without a firm agreement on something big,” Carney told reporters. “We are not wavering on the president’s absolute assertion that he will not sign a tollbooth series of provisions.”
Carney was referring to a series of short-term measures Obama signed to avert a government shutdown in early April. He has also pledged not to sign any short-term agreements to raise the debt ceiling.
“The President does not support a short-term extension of the debt limit, period. The only exception to that is in the event that both sides reach a deal on a long-term extension of the debt limit plus significant deficit reduction, and we needed a very short-term extension (like a few days) to allow a bit of extra time for a bill to work its way through the legislative process," Carney said.
Major Garrett, Billy House and Dan Friedman contributed.