Obama calls meeting with congressional leaders in effort to avoid shutdown

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the possible government shutdown, April 5, 2011, at the White House in Washington. AP Photo

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the possible government shutdown, April 5, 2011, at the White House in Washington.
President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the possible government shutdown, April 5, 2011, at the White House in Washington.
AP Photo

President Obama has invited House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to meet with him at the White House at 8:45 p.m. this evening in an attempt to avert the government shutdown that will begin if a budget deal is not worked out by Friday.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president called the meeting because he "decided that not enough progress has been made."

Vice President Biden will also be present at the meeting.

A White House official told CBS News the invitation was precipitated by two events. The first was Boehner indicating that he will call for a vote on a measure to fund the government for another week. Lawmakers have passed a pair of short-resolutions to keep the government running while they've debated a budget bill to last for the rest of the fiscal year, but President Obama said he will not accept another such bill.

The second event, the official said, was the president's angry reaction to word that some Republicans had cheered the prospects of a government shutdown at their conference meeting today.

Following a meeting with President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio talks about the budget, Tuesday, April 5, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Boehner's camp denies that claim, saying that people cheered when Boehner was praised for standing strong against the White House.

"The conference did not cheer at the prospect of a government shutdown," a Boehner aide told CBS News. A House source called the claim there had been cheering over the prospect of a shutdown "ridiculous."

A bill was introduced in the GOP-led House on Monday that funds the government for another week and also funds the Department of Defense for the rest of the year. The bill includes $12 billion in spending cuts, as well as a policy rider that would prohibit taxpayer funds for abortions in the District of Columbia.

Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats have rejected this proposal, which is expected to come up for a House vote on Thursday. It appears designed to be used to cast Democrats as responsible if and when a shutdown comes to pass.

The $12 billion in cuts is six times as many cuts as in past short-term resolutions. The House and Senate have passed $10 billion in cuts so far.

House Republicans want the budget deal to include the $61 billion in cuts that exist in the budget bill they passed earlier this year, as well as controversial policy riders including provisions that would strip government funding for Planned Parenthood, EPA, Public Broadcasting and health care implementation.

(At left, Republican budget hawk Rep. Jeff Flake discusses the looming government shutdown and who's to blame with CBS News' John Dickerson.)

Democrats say they are willing to cut $33 billion from the budget and have cast Boehner and the Republican leadership as unwilling to compromise because they are being held hostage by the Tea Party.

In a conference call on Wednesday, a senior administration official told reporters that approximately 800,000 federal employees would likely be furloughed in the event of a government shutdown. Tens of thousands of military personnel would also not immediately be paid and national parks, the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies would be closed.

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Funding for the federal government runs out Friday night. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30th, and lawmakers are already sparring over a budget for the fiscal year that follows.

Mr. Obama on Wednesday chided lawmakers for "trying to inject politics" into the budget debate, complaining that Republicans have walked away from an earlier deal.

"We've agreed to a compromise, but somehow we still don't have a deal - because some folks are trying to inject politics into what should be simple debate about how to pay our bills," he said, referencing the Republican budget riders.

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