In a surprise appearance at the daily White House press briefing today, President Barack Obama inserted himself into the budget debate that has, in recent weeks, consumed lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
The WSJ reports:
President Barack Obama stepped out personally to address the impasse on budget negotiations and reject a Republican proposal for another temporary resolution unless it is to give Congress a few more days to pass a permanent deal.
“We are now at a point where there is no excuse to extend this further,” Mr. Obama said during a surprise appearance at the daily White House briefing. “I shouldn’t have to oversee a process where Congress deals with last-year’s budget when we only have six months left.”
The president, who has mostly stayed out of the budget debate until now, was visibly irritated over the impasse in negotiations. “There can be some negotiations about composition” of the cuts, Mr. Obama said, but he said he will not negotiate on ideological issues like abortion in the current budget discussions.
“We don’t have time for games,” he said. “Not on this.”
The current stopgap spending measure for fiscal 2011, which began last October, expires at midnight Friday. The federal government is preparing for a partial government shutdown to begin this weekend if another stopgap measure or legislation funding the government through the remainder of the fiscal year isn’t approved soon.
Mr. Obama said that the White House has “identified areas where we have made significant cuts,” and that he has moved to accept Republicans’ “original proposal for how much would be cut.”
“We are now closer than we’ve ever been to getting an agreement,” Mr. Obama said. “The only question is whether politics or ideology is going to get in the way of preventing a shutdown.”
According to the Financial Times, Obama implored Congressional leaders to "act like grown ups."
Mr Obama, who publicly waded into the talks for the first time, called on congressional leaders to act “like grown ups” after the meeting and said it was time to reach an agreement and stop “spending our time quibbling around the edges”.
But one Congressional leader--John Boehner--was undeterred. He said that the Democrats' "smoke and mirrors" tactics will not stop the GOP from making the largest cuts possible.
The AP notes that later today, Boehner, Harry Reid, and Obama will meet to discuss the budget:
Appearing before reporters at the White House, Obama said that House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were to meet on Capitol Hill later Tuesday to continue negotiations. If that meeting does not produce an agreement, Obama said he would summon the pair back to the White House Wednesday.
"Myself, Joe Biden, my team - we are prepared to meet for as long as possible to get this resolved," Obama said.
Boehner, in a televised appearance right after Obama, said Republicans also want to avoid a government shutdown but also want to achieve the largest spending cuts that are possible. "We believe cutting spending will help us create jobs in America," he said.
Who will blink first?