The US appeared to be headed for the first government shut down in 15 years, as the White House and the Congress remained at loggerheads on the annual budget for the year 2011, even as President Barack Obama said he is making all efforts to avoid this.
Making a rare appearance in the White House press room soon after meeting the top Congressional leadership, Obama said his Administration is making round the clock effort to avoid a government shut down.
"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. I will have my entire team available to work through the details of getting a deal done," Obama said.
"But right now there's no reason why we should not get this done. 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," he said.
Obama said a government can't be run on short term- extensions, as has been the case now.
"That is not a way to run a government. I can't have our agencies making plans based on two-week budgets," he said, referring to the two short-term extensions so far.
"If over the next 24 to 48 hours a deal is done and we just can't get the paperwork through Congress quick enough and they want to do a clean extension for two or three days in order to go ahead and complete a deal, then that's something that we could support. But what we are not going to do is to once again put off something that should have gotten done several months ago," he said.
Obama said the Republican original budget proposed $73 billion in cuts.
"We have now agreed to $73 billion worth of cuts. What they are now saying is, well, we are not sure that every single one of the cuts that you've made are ones that we agree to; we'd rather have these cuts rather than that cut. That's not the basis for shutting down the government," he said.
"We should be able to come up with a compromise in which nobody gets 100 per cent of what they want, but the American people get the peace of mind in knowing that folks here in Washington are actually thinking about them - because they're going through a whole lot of struggles right now," he noted.
Soon thereafter the House Speaker John A Boehner said there has been no agreement so far.
"There was no agreement, so those conversations will continue. We made clear that we're fighting for the largest spending cuts possible," Boehner said.