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Shutdown countdown: No White House meeting today a good sign?

Harry Reid
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 5, 2011. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Republicans and Democrats have just three days to hash out a federal budget to cover the next six months, but it could be a good sign if the negotiators don't return to the White House today.

President Obama met on Tuesday morning with House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Appropriations Chairman Dan Inouye and House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers to discuss negotiations over the budget. If Congress doesn't pass a budget by Friday evening, the federal government will shutdown.

Mr. Obama told reporters yesterday that if Congress "can't sort it out, I want them back [at the White House] tomorrow."

A senior White House official told CBS News this morning that there has been "some progress" since then and a decision on whether there will be another White House meeting will be made later today, based on how the congressional negotiations proceed.

Scheduling a meeting wouldn't be easy, however: Boehner is scheduled to meet this morning with Israeli President Shimon Peres, and Mr. Obama is slated to leave for Pennsylvania and New York around Noon and won't return until around 9 p.m.

On ABC's "Good Morning America" today, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said it's a good sign there's no White House budget meeting scheduled today.

"[It] shows that there is a view that these talks are making some progress, but I'd still be worried particularly because they keep moving the goal post back," Schumer said.

Reid and Boehner continued negotiating yesterday evening, but Schumer suggested the talks are held up because Boehner can't get his Tea Party members in line.

"The Tea Party just continues to pull Speaker Boehner further back and back and back," he said. "They are the people who say they don't want compromise. They are the people who say they relish a shutdown. And the bottom line is if he can resist them, not give them their way on everything, I think we can have an agreement, and that is why there is a glimmer of hope."

Democrats have agreed to cut $33 billion in this budget bill -- which is what House Republicans initially wanted -- but Republicans are now saying it's not good enough. In addition to spending cuts, the GOP is interested in adding policy provisions to the bill, such as measures to defund programs like Planned Parenthood.

"I cannot vote for the current compromise," Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), chair of the House Tea Party Caucus, said on MSNBC Wednesday morning, because it "doesn't include the defunding of Obamacare."

However, she added, "I firmly believe by Friday a deal will be made."

Speaking with reporters yesterday, Mr. Obama said "it would be inexcusable for us to not be able to take care of last year's business...when we are this close, simply because of politics."

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