President Barack Obama has reached out to Republican and Democratic lawmakers in search of a resolution to automatic across-the-board US government spending cuts, a White House official said on Sunday, but Republican congressional leaders offered little hope for a quick solution.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, and Mitch McConnell, the Senate
Republican leader, both expressed confidence that there would not be a government shutdown at the end of the month amid the showdown with Obama over federal spending. "I don't think anyone quite understands how it gets resolved," Boehner said on the NBC program "Meet the Press" as he put the blame squarely on Obama and his fellow Democrats.
"It's time for the president and Senate Democrats to get serious about the long-term spending problem that we have," Boehner said.
Obama late on Friday formally ordered broad cuts in government spending after he and congressional Republicans failed to reach a deal to avert the automatic reductions that could dampen economic growth and curb military readiness.
Government agencies now will begin to cut a total of $85 billion from their budgets from now through Sept. 30 under automatic reductions known as "sequestration." Half of the cuts will fall on the Pentagon.
Gene Sperling, director of the White House National Economic Council, said Obama spoke on Saturday afternoon with a select group of lawmakers to try to find a path out of the current fiscal crisis - a "bipartisan compromise." He did not identify the lawmakers to whom Obama spoke.
"He's reaching out to Democrats who understand we have to make serious progress on long-term entitlement reform, and Republicans who realize that if we had that type of entitlement reform, they'd be willing to have tax reform that raises revenues to lower the deficit," Sperling said.