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Policy: Budgets & Deficits

Obama invites congressional leaders to White House

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President Obama has invited congressional leaders to discuss the government shutdown and debt limit, the White House announced on Wednesday.

A White House official said “[Senate] Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader McConnell, [House] Speaker Boehner and Democratic Leader Pelosi,” were called to the meeting to be held at 5:30 p.m. today.

"The President will urge the House to pass the clean CR to reopen the government, and call on Congress to act to raise the debt ceiling to pay the bills we have already incurred and avoid devastating consequences on our economy," the official said.

White House press secretary Jay Carney also said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew would attend the meeting and brief congressional leaders on “the impacts of the threat of default” and urge lawmakers to act.

The meeting comes as the government remains shut down for the second day after Congress failed to meet an Oct. 1 deadline and pass a new funding bill.

Carney downplayed suggestions that Obama would negotiate with Republican lawmakers at the meeting to reopen the government.

"The president is not going to sit down and start asking for puts and takes," Carney told reporters. "He is not going to engage in that kind of negotiation because he does not want to hold or have held the opening of the government… to a set of demands."

House Republican lawmakers passed spending bills which also defunded and delayed Obamacare, but those measures were rejected by the Democratically-controlled Senate.

Obama has blamed the shutdown on Republicans and urged them to quickly pass a clean spending bill.

House GOP leaders are pushing to pass spending bills piecemeal, reopening parts of the government, but Reid has said he will block those measures in favor of one comprehensive bill.

Lawmakers also have two weeks to raise the nation's borrowing limit to avert a default.

Republicans hope to tie the debt limit to further spending cuts and entitlement reforms. Obama, however, has said he will not negotiate over raising the debt limit.

GOP lawmakers have criticized the president, saying he brought on the shutdown by failing to negotiate with them.

Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck welcomed the White House invitation.

"We’re pleased the president finally recognizes that his refusal to negotiate is indefensible,” he said. “It’s unclear why we’d be having this meeting if it’s not meant to be a start to serious talks between the two parties.”

This story was published at 11:30 a.m. and has been updated.

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Brian Hughes

White House Correspondent
The Washington Examiner