Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Obama Remarks After Meeting with Senate Leadership

from the inbox:


James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:02 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Good afternoon. As many of you know, this morning I had a meeting with Speaker Boehner, Leader Reid, as well as the two appropriations chairs, Inouye and Rogers, to discuss the situation with last year’s budget, and I wanted to give you and, more importantly, the American people an update on where we are.

From the outset, my goal has been to significantly cut our domestic spending but, at the same time, make sure we’re making key investments in things like education, infrastructure, innovation -- the things that are going to help us win the future.

And over the course of the last several months, we have identified areas where we can make substantial cuts. In fact, what we’ve been able to do is to present to the House Republicans a budget framework that would cut the same amount of spending as Speaker Boehner and Chairman Rogers originally proposed -- their original proposal for how much would be cut.

And several weeks ago, there were discussions between the White House and Speaker Boehner’s office in which we said, let’s start negotiating off of that number, $73 billion. We are now closer than we have ever been to getting an agreement. There’s no reason why we should not get an agreement. As I said before, we have now matched the number that the Speaker originally sought.

The only question is whether politics or ideology are going to get in the way of preventing a government shutdown. Now, what does this potentially mean for the American people? At a time when the economy is just beginning to grow, where we’re just starting to see a pickup in employment, the last thing we need is a disruption that’s caused by a government shutdown. Not to mention all the people who depend on government services, whether you’re a veteran or you’re somebody who’s trying to get a passport or you’re planning to visit one of the national monuments or you’re a business leader who’s trying to get a small business loan. You don’t want delays, you don’t want disruptions just because of usual politics in Washington.

So what I said to the Speaker today, and what I said to Leader Reid, and what I’ve said to the two appropriations chairs, is that myself, Joe Biden, my team, we are prepared to meet for as long as possible to get this resolved.

My understanding is that there’s going to be a meeting between Speaker Boehner and Harry Reid this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. The Speaker apparently didn’t want our team involved in that discussion. That’s fine. If they can sort it out then we’ve got more than enough to do. If they can’t sort it out, then I want them back here tomorrow. But it would be inexcusable for us to not be able to take care of last year’s business -- keep in mind we’re dealing with a budget that could have gotten done three months ago, could have gotten done two months ago, could have gotten done last month -- when we are this close simply because of politics.

And we are prepared to put whatever resources are required in terms of time and energy to get this done. But that’s what the American people expect. They don’t like these games. And we don’t have time for them. There are some things that we can’t control. We can’t control earthquakes; we can’t control tsunamis; we can’t control uprisings on the other side of the world. What we can control is our capacity to have a reasoned, fair conversation between the parties and get the business of the American people done. And that’s what I expect.

So, again, I want to reiterate, my understanding is the Speaker and Leader Reid are going to have a meeting at 4:00 p.m. If that issue does not get resolved and we don’t start seeing progress, I want a meeting again tomorrow here at the White House. I will invite the same folks that we invited today. And if that doesn’t work, we’ll invite them again the day after that. And I will have my entire team available to work through the details of getting a deal done.

But right now there’s no reason why we should not get this done. And we’ve got more than enough to do than to be spending our time going back and forth, quibbling around the edges on something this important to the American people.

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