Congressional leaders invited to W.H. on spending cuts deadline day
February 27th, 2013
01:10 PM ET
1 year ago

Congressional leaders invited to W.H. on spending cuts deadline day

(CNN) – Congressional leaders have been invited to the White House for a meeting at 10 a.m. ET Friday–the day forced spending cuts are scheduled to start taking effect, two sources said Wednesday.

But while President Barack Obama was on Capitol Hill Wednesday for a Rosa Parks statue unveiling, he met with congressional leaders for a brief, minute-long meeting.

According to an Obama administration official, the president discussed the forced spending cuts and said that during their pending White House meeting on Friday they need to be "ready to talk solutions."

Obama met with the following leaders on Capitol Hill: House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Assistant House Democratic Leader James Clyburn.

Asked by CNN if the discussion led to anything, Reid suggested it was just a quick huddle. When pressed on if he was surprised the White House meeting was scheduled for Friday, the Nevada Democrat gave a big smile and said, "Nothing surprises me anymore."

Pelosi also told CNN in an exclusive interview that the meeting before the ceremony was brief.

"We just came together and talked about looking forward to getting together on Friday," she said.

Pelosi downplayed the timing of the White House meeting saying, "I have no idea, I guess it's just a scheduling thing. "

"I don't have any problem with us meeting on Friday," she added. "I think what we're talking about is beyond sequester."

Another Democratic official who was at the short gathering described the setting as “regular protocol” for these events–top leaders typically greet the president in an area off-stage and walk in shortly before the event begins.

A GOP aide told CNN that Republicans do not anticipate the White House meeting to be anything more than optics–an effort, the aide said, by Obama to show he is at least talking to Congress on the day the cuts are supposed to kick in.

But the aide added it wasn't clear what was on the president's agenda.

By the time Obama meets with the leaders, the cuts–$85 billion worth over the next seven months–could have already started to take place. It all depends on when Obama issues an order to let them begin. He has until 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday to issue the order, according to an official with the Office of Management and Budget.

A senior congressional Republican chided Obama for the timing of the meeting.

"Either someone needs to buy the White House a calendar, or this is just a – belated – farce," the Republican said. "They ought to at least pretend to try."

And McConnell released a statement, saying "The meeting Friday is an opportunity for us to visit with the President about how we can all keep our commitment to reduce Washington spending."

He continued: "With a $16.6 trillion national debt, and a promise to the American people to address it, one thing is perfectly clear: we will cut Washington spending. We can either secure those reductions more intelligently, or we can do it the President’s way with across-the board cuts. But one thing Americans simply will not accept is another tax increase to replace spending reductions we already agreed to.”

Reid, however, took to the Senate floor earlier Wednesday to "make sure everyone understands this is not President Obama's sequester."

"Congress has the power to (a)void these self-inflicted wounds," he added. "But Democrats can’t do it alone. Republicans have to do their part. Compromise is never easy but surely it is better than doing nothing at all."

– CNN's Jake Tapper and Jessica Yellin contributed to this report.


Filed under: Congress • Debt • Deficit • White House
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Wilson

    And when the Republicans opened the seventh seal of the sequester, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black and the stars fell unto the Earth; and our nation's ability to forecast severe weather, such as drought events, hurricanes and tornados, was seriously undermined. Lo, and the children were not vaccinated, and all the beasts starved in the zoos, and the planes were grounded. Or so President Obama and his Cabinet prophets have been preaching ahead of the automatic budget cuts due to begin Friday. The bit about the weather is a real quote from the White House budget director.
    The truth is that the sequester already gives the White House the legal flexibility to avoid doom, if a 5% cut to programs that have increased more than 17% on average over the Obama Presidency counts as doom. According to Mr. Obama and his budget office, the sequester cuts are indiscriminate and spell out specific percentages that will be subtracted from federal 'projects, programs and activities,' or PPAs.
    Not so fast. Programs, projects and activities are a technical category of the federal budget, but the sequester actually occurs at the roughly 1,200 broader units known as budget accounts. Some accounts are small, but others contain hundreds of PPAs and the larger accounts run to billions of dollars. For the Pentagon in particular, the distinction between PPAs and accounts is huge. This means in most cases the President has the room to protect his 'investments' while managing the fiscal transition over time.
    Could it be that Mr. Obama is exaggerating the legal stringency of the sequester in a gambit to force Congress to shut it off?
    Neither the legal details of the sequester nor the practical work of reforming government are as interesting to the media as Mr. Obama's invocations of plagues and pestilence. The real revelation is that if the world does end, it will be Mr. Obama's choice.

    February 27, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  2. much thunder.little rain

    why is it that america has to go from one dead line to another ..what a pathedic way to govern....all three banches suck

    February 27, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. maneough2b

    Our government are a bunch of Bullies. They threaten each other and threaten the American's who foolishly keep voting them in. I am sick of being threatened by our POTUS! I am sick of being threatened of what will happen. Lets face it none of them will work. Let's just LAY THEM OFF!!!!!!!!!!! If they can't do their job we don't need them. HUGE SAVINGS.

    February 27, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. aCriticalEye

    So ther is a democratic proposal in both the house and the senate, but since they both are looking at it from a balanced approach, the NORQUITS/Tea Party lead GOP will make sure it fails. Oh....I see

    I for one insist on BOTH increased taxes AND spending cuts. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 27, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  5. Fubarack

    Seems you would want to meet sooner than the last day. Not that it matters, the new budget is more than last year, and it should be less.

    February 27, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  6. Wilson

    Now for some Sarcasm.....
    Here are some things that will result from the sequestration cuts: All prisons will be shut down and prisoners released. Even the most violent of criminals. Medicare will be replaced with a hammer given to old people to kill themselves with. Our military will be armed with nothing but bayonets. All traffic lights will be turned off. No more money for cowboy poetry festivals, the only thing keeping cowboys from violence and thus the only thing keeping the wild west from breaking out again. No more postage for strongly-worded letters sent to Iran and North Korea telling them to stop having nuclear weapons. Obama will only get five golf outings a month.
    Sometimes the only thing that keeps me from being pessimistic is knowing that the when the country collapses, the people most responsible will die out in the first winter.

    February 27, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  7. Tampa Tim

    U . . . – Budget bills come from the house. There is no plan from the house that has been sent to the senate under this Congress. Boehner must have missed that day when it was covered in high school government class.

    February 27, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  8. bcrunner

    @bigdoglv: No, the Republicans went on vacation... remember?? I want to make $174,000 a year and work about one week out of every month...

    February 27, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  9. Trevor, N.Y.

    The blame is actually on all of us, these cuts are needed for the U.S. to get back to basics. You cannot just spend money you do not have. It's just not logical or smart. I know many of us wants to point fingers saying it's the White House or Congress, but let's not forget that we either vote or not vote (in which case it's still our fault). We take for granted the benefits (e.g. monetary assistances) that we did not work for. People started putting themselves first, and that's a problem... we are all in this together.

    February 27, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  10. Ron

    Mitch McConnell says, "...one thing Americans simply will not accept is another tax increase to replace spending reductions we already agreed to.” What he means is this: the wealthy who finance Republican campaigns will not accept another tax increase. "Americans" have made it abundantly clear that they still favor a combination of increased revenues and reduction of spending.

    February 27, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. Manti

    I looked at this photo and burst out laughing. These are our leaders????????????????????

    February 27, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. hahahahaha

    Two in photo: speak no evil, hear no evil...

    February 27, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  13. julie

    they are absolutely the worse congress in history approval rating 19% will be 9% after March 1..................most obstructing, blocking, filibustering morons in history..........driven by hate ..republicans and sorry to say even some repub supporters are just blind to stupidity, reeling from that azz beating in NOV can't move on for sake of country petty, do nothing congress at its best

    February 27, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. rad666

    Everyone at the WH? Sure would be awful if there was a terrorist attack that eliminated all of them.

    February 27, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. Sniffit

    YAWN. CNN is essentially just the GOP/Teatrolls' bullhorn at this point...has become nothing more than a place to go to find out what the latest misinformation campaign hot garbage reality-rewrites the GOP/Teatrolls are selling to cover their efforts to dismantle the federal gov't.

    February 27, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  16. Linda

    The majority of the American People voted for Obama. The majority wins, so do what Obama wants, that's what we voted for. Not the GOP save the rich philosophy.

    February 27, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  17. Steve Andrews

    Typical Obama – too little, too late. Obama has consciously allowed the sequester (which he and "brainchild" Jack Lew crafted in the first place) run up to the last minute and has engaged in campaigning instead of working with Congress and vacationing with Reggie Love and golfing with Tiger Woods. Now he'll call a meeting with Congressional leaders in the 11th hour for the media's sake – so they can make it look like he's been working with both parties all along. Everyone sees through this, and the inneffective presidency of Barack Obama continues....

    February 27, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  18. JesterJames

    If I don't do my job, I don't get paid, same goes for everyone else, except for congress. If they gonna let sequestration goes through, the first thing they should cut is their own salary.

    February 27, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  19. AK_steve

    I am tired of GOP LIES. The president had been clear about a BALANCED approach. But the GOP only talks about how he want to raise taxes. The fact is, the GOP only wants to cut spending. So the sequester is EXACTLY what the GOP wants.

    But even when the GOP gets what they want they still blame it on the president.

    The American people aren't dumb. We see how the GOP uses double talk but does nothing. They lie, blame and cry. What a bunch of cowardly elitist.

    February 27, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. Jimh77

    If a Republican was elected as President, none of these conversations would be taking place. The debt ceiling would be raised a few more times, the budgets would be increased several more times and life would just be moving right along.
    Since a Republican did not become the President, all hands down, nothing moves from here the GOP states, we are doing nothing. We will be in control one way or another and we don't care what it does to the Country.
    THE GOP MUST BE DEFEATED!

    February 27, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  21. Sniffit

    "Everyone sees through this, and the inneffective presidency of Barack Obama continues...."

    Polls show quite clearlyk and unmistakably that the maority of the public prefers Obama's proposals and blames the GOP/Teatrolls for all of this manufactured crisis crap. ALL. OF. IT. Denying it doesn't make it go away. Trying desperately to feed the MSM as many soundbites blaming Obama doesn't change the facts and HAS NOT WORKED. It's time for the GOP/Teatrolls to open wide and swallow another crow sammich.

    February 27, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. Brian Turner

    What is wrong with today or tomorrow. Again they wait until the last day and hour. Such attention seekers, they should all be thrown out including the President for mental health evaluations and not allowed back in until they prove they are mentally capable of doing their jobs they signed up for and we elected them to. Military persons are removed everyday for not being able to fullfill their duties, why not these guys too?

    February 27, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  23. Sniffit

    "...one thing Americans simply will not accept is another tax increase to replace spending reductions we already agreed to.”

    Polls show the OPPOSITE. Beaker is talking out of his wallet.

    February 27, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    GOPT worried about $85 billion spending cuts??? For crying out loud, their Iraq and Afghan wars cost our nation $5.5 trillion dollars. I say take away their pensions and fire them all. Or cut off federal welfare to red states.

    February 27, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. Tony

    The optics of inviting Congressional leaders to the White House works because Republicans do not offer alternatives to the sequester, which by the way was passed with overwhelming Republican support. Doing something beats doing nothing any day.

    February 27, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
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