WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will meet Friday with the top leaders in the House and Senate, several hours past the deadline for averting automatic budget cuts, to discuss how to proceed on divisive tax-and-spend issues.
Because the meeting is set to take place well after Friday's deadline for the so-called sequester to kick in, it appears both sides are operating under an assumption that a deal to avert the cuts ahead of the deadline is now out of the question.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the session will focus on ways to reduce government spending, but he also said he will not back down on his opposition to any new revenues. McConnell, along with House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, will attend meeting at the White House.
"We can either secure those reductions more intelligently, or we can do it the president's way with across-the board cuts. But one thing Americans simply will not accept is another tax increase to replace spending reductions we already agreed to," said McConnell, R-Ky.
The meeting reflects a move to jump start negotiations after weeks of inaction on cuts that both parties have said could inflict major damage to government programs, the military and the economy at large. No serious talks to avert the cuts have been under way, and Friday's meeting will be the first face-to-face discussion between Obama and Republican leaders this year.