SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

The Nation

April 8, 2011

Time's up: Obama and GOP scramble to halt shutdown

WASHINGTON — Uncomfortably close to a deadline, President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders have only hours to avert a Friday midnight government shutdown that all sides say would inconvenience millions of people and damage a still fragile economy.

Obama said he still hoped to announce an agreement on Friday but did not have "wild optimism."

In revealing nothing about what still divides them, Obama and the lawmakers, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., all said another late night of talks in the Oval Office had narrowed their differences over cutting federal spending and other matters.

But Obama said ominously that the machinery of a shutdown was already in motion.

"I expect an answer in the morning," Obama told reporters Thursday evening as representatives from the White House and Capitol Hill plunged ahead with negotiations into the night.

The aides were trying to cobble together a deal on how much federal spending to slash, where to cut it and what caveats to attach as part of a bill to fund the government through Sept. 30. A temporary federal spending measure expires at midnight Friday.

As the pressure mounted, Obama abruptly postponed plans to promote his agenda in Indiana on Friday.

For a nation eager to trim to federal spending but also weary of Washington bickering, the spending showdown had real implications.

A closure would mean the furloughs of hundreds of thousands of workers and the services they provide, from processing many tax refunds to approving business loans. Medical research would be disrupted, national parks would close and most travel visa and passport services would stop, among many others.

Obama spoke after a double-barreled day of meetings with Boehner and Reid. The three have held four such meetings this week.

Throughout Thursday, the president, Reid and Boehner bargained and blustered by turns, struggling to settle their differences while maneuvering to avoid any political blame if they failed.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
The Nation

AP Video
Raw: Woman Escorted From Ferguson Protests California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Holder Hopes to Bring Calm to Ferguson Holder Pledges Top Investigators for Ferguson US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Changes Coming to No-Fly List Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Arrests Witnessed in Ferguson Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape Texas Gov. Perry: Indictment 'a Political Act' US Officials: Video Shows American's Beheading
NDN Video
US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Reggie Jackson's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Are Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon Breaking Up? Motorcyclist Sticks Landing This 'Breaking Bad' Reunion is the Most Hilarious Thing You'll See All Day! President Obama talks about who James Foley was Nicki Minaj Unleashes Her 'Anaconda' On the World Watch Helicopter Perform Aerial Ballet Can Buckeyes fill Miller's void? Victoria's Secret Models Prove They're in Fighting Shape How Brian Hoyer Stacks Up With Johnny Manziel Taylor Swift Reveals New Album 1989 is Full-On Pop Crews rescue elderly woman trapped inside flooded minivan Man Poses for New Mugshot Photo Wearing Shirt with Old Mugshot Photo On It Disquieting times for Malaysia's 'fish listeners' Caught On Camera: Johnny Manziel Obscene Gesture Rita Ora Embraces the Ice Bucket Challenge Bird surprises soccer player Ashley Young during game Chapter Two: Never too late to become an artist Ice Bucket Challenge Goes Viral, Raises Over $15M For ALS