Efforts to avoid gov't shutdown move to Senate
By JULIE PACE, AP White House Correspondent
Published OC Register: Mar. 7, 2013 7:28 AM ET
WASHINGTON (AP) — Efforts to stave off a late March government shutdown shifted to the Senate after House Republicans swiftly passed legislation to keep federal agencies running, while also easing some of the effects of $85 billion in budget cuts.
While no real breakthroughs appeared to emerge from Wednesday night's two-hour meal, the mere fact that it happened was significant given the lack of direct engagement between Obama and rank-and-file Republicans over the past two years
It would take months for compromise talks on a broad deficit reduction deal to bear fruit, and there is little sign of shifts on the key difference that separates the parties. Obama is seeking higher taxes as part of his deficit-cutting approach, while Ryan, author of the House GOP budget, previewed a longer-term plan Wednesday to erase federal deficits without raising taxes.
"I think this whole thing will come to a crescendo this summer, and we're going to have to talk to each other to get an agreement about how to delay a debt crisis, how to save this country from a fiscal train wreck that's coming," said Ryan. He added that he had spoken with Obama in recent days, but he declined to provide details.
a shift in tactics for a president who has been reluctant to reach out personally to lawmakers. But White House efforts to compel Republicans to negotiate by mounting public pressure campaigns proved futile
Lawmakers and the White House are now looking for ways to ease the impact of the "sequester," as the automatic cuts are called, at the same time they seek to prevent a shutdown of federal agencies on March 27.
The legislation that cleared the House on Wednesday on a bipartisan vote would do both, The bill now goes to the Senate,
As the president looks toward longer-term talks on deficit reduction, he is pointedly skipping over the Republican leaders of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, and of the House, John Boehner
Republicans have had mixed reactions to the outreach from the president, who has often preferred assigning those efforts to his staff and Vice President Joe Biden.
"He's never spent anytime reaching out," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who spoke with the president this week about gun-control legislation. "The question is, is it starting to change because there is bad poll numbers or is it because he really decided he's going to lead and solve some of the problems of the country?"
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a frequent critic of the White House on national security issues, said he was encouraged by Obama's efforts.
"This is how you solve hard problems," the South Carolina Republican said.
The president will have an opportunity to make his case to GOP leaders next week when he heads to Capitol Hill for separate meetings with the House and Senate Republican conferences.
Obama will also meet on Capitol Hill next week with House and Senate Democrats.