Obama says to talk with GOP as long as possible to avoid gov't shutdown

15:36, April 06, 2011      

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U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday said the White House is prepared to talk with the Republican Party as long as possible to avoid a government shutdown that looms on Friday.

Obama made the comment at a White House briefing after talks with GOP leaders on the budget earlier in the day didn't yield any results. He said the two sides are "closer than ever been in getting an agreement."

"There is no reason why we should not get an agreement," said the president, warning that "the last thing we need is a disruption caused by government shutdown."

The White House and the Republicans are at loggerheads over the budget issue. The Congress sent Obama a short-term funding measure on March 17, keeping the government running until Friday, and officials have been working to prevent a government shutdown. Before that, the federal government had been funded by stopgap bills since the beginning of the current fiscal year last October.

Obama said House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will meet again in the afternoon, and if that meeting yields no results, he is prepared to meet with Congressional leaders in the White House on Wednesday.

"Myself, (Vice President) Joe Biden, my team. We are prepared to meet for as long as possible to get this resolved," Obama said.

Earlier in the day, Obama met in the White House with Congressional leaders and the leaders of House and Senate spending panels. Participants include Boehner, Reid, Sen. Daniel Inouye and Rep. Hal Rogers.

After the meeting, Boehner's office said the meeting did not resolve the standoff over funding the government for the rest of the year. Boehner himself appeared before reporters to say Republicans want to avoid a shutdown as well, but he would not cut a "bad deal" on spending to keep the government open.

"We want the largest spending cuts that are possible," he said.

The Republicans have proposed a new stopgap legislation, which contains 12 billion dollars in spending cuts, on Monday night. The measure would keep the entire government funded for another week, buying time for a long-term deal. However, the measure is difficult for the Democrats to support because it would impose 12 billion in cuts in one week, six times than previous stopgap measures.

Obama said he would only accept another short-term funding extension, of two or three days, in order to get a longer-term deal.

"I cannot have our agencies making plans based on two-week budgets," Obama said. "What we are not going to do is once again put off something that should have been done months ago."

Source: Xinhua
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