Obama calls in Congress leaders for shutdown talks

Obama calls in Congress leaders for shutdown talks

WASHINGTON – Agence France-Presse
Obama calls in Congress leaders for shutdown talks

Speaker of the U.S. House Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) walks out of his office to the House Chamber on Oct. 1. AP photo

U.S. President Barack Obama called Republican and Democratic leaders to a White House meeting Oct. 2 as a government shutdown went deep into a second day.

The talks will include Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, and Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, White House and congressional sources said.

Obama will urge the House of Representatives to pass a spending bill to reopen the government without measures designed to disable his health care bill that Democrats in the Senate refuse to pass, a White House official said.

Obama will also urge Congress to pass a bill lifting the government's 16.7 trillion dollar debt ceiling, without which the government could run out of money to pay its bills by the middle of the month and which could trigger a debt default for the first time in U.S. history.

Republicans quickly claimed the fact a meeting will take place as a victory, after accusing Obama of refusing to negotiate with them on budget issues which forced government departments to shut down and sent hundreds of thousands of federal workers home without pay.

"We're pleased the president finally recognizes that his refusal to negotiate is indefensible," said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck.

"It's unclear why we'd be having this meeting if it's not meant to be a start to serious talks between the two parties."