POLITICS: PennAve

White House wants budget summit with Congress next week

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Harry Reid,John Boehner,Health Care,Debt Ceiling,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,United Nations,Budgets and Deficits,Spending

The White House is trying to pull together a meeting next week with top Democratic and Republican congressional leaders as the prospect of a government shutdown looms.

The date of the budget meeting has yet to be finalized, but the White House has reached out to leaders' offices, congressional sources confirmed Friday.

President Obama is scheduled to travel to New York to attend and speak at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday and Tuesday, so the meeting, first reported by Politico, would be scheduled later in the week, possibly Thursday.

Lawmakers must pass a continuing resolution by the end of the month to keep government funded and avoid a shutdown. And in October, Congress must vote to raise the nation’s debt limit to avoid a default.

But fears of a shutdown intensified after the Republican-controlled House on Friday passed a spending bill that would defund Obama's healthcare reform law. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, on Thursday warned Republicans that Democrats and Obama “will not blink” when it comes to defunding the health care law, saying any bill aimed at doing so would be “dead on arrival” in the upper chamber.

Republicans also hope to tie a debt-limit hike to deeper spending cuts and entitlement reform.

If the ceiling isn't raised by mid-October, economists warn that the government would default on its debt, sending stocks tumbling and undermining the jobs recovery.

Obama has also said he will not negotiate with Republicans over raising the country's debt ceiling and will veto any bill that defunds health care reform.

“The White House has indicated it would like to convene a meeting with congressional leaders,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “The speaker will attend, of course, but given that the president has said he won't discuss the debt limit with Congress, we're not sure why it's even taking place.”

House Republicans Thursday released a video poking fun at Obama's openness to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Syria’s chemical weapons but not with Boehner.

House and Senate Republicans, though, have spent the week fighting among themselves over just how far they are willing to go to try to defund Obamacare in the continuing resolution.

Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, have pushed their GOP colleagues to defund Obamacare in exchange for agreeing to raise the debt ceiling and keep the government funded. They hope to choke off funding for the health care law before enrollment in its insurance exchanges beginning Oct. 1.

Other voices in the party, including Karl Rove, a top Republican strategist to former President George W. Bush, argue that Republicans don't have the votes to block Obamacare and that a shutdown or default will hurt the GOP at the ballot box in 2014.

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