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Obama, Democratic leaders meet to avoid government shutdown

By Amy R. Connolly
Obama, Democratic leaders meet to avoid government shutdown
U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Hurricane Katrina Memorial site Aug. 29 in New Orleans where nearly 100 unclaimed or unidentified victims of Hurricane Katrina are interred. Thursday, Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama met to discuss a measure that would avert a government shutdown. Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- President Obama and top Democratic leaders met behind closed doors as Congress scrambled to avoid a government shutdown.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced that he, Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi agreed on a stopgap measure Thursday to keep the government running to allow for negotiations on a "meaningful" budget. Their meeting was a clear signal they were taking the possibility of a shutdown seriously.

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Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to pass a spending bill before government funding runs out at the end of the fiscal year. Reid said the measure would be a short-term one that includes the same size increase for military and non-military spending. They added that they will demand that it not include any language about other issues, such as Planned Parenthood funding. Up to 31 Republicans have vowed not to vote for any spending bill that includes Planned Parenthood funding.

"The three of us agree that we want a short-term [resolution]," Reid said. "We want to make sure that the riders are off that. We want to make sure we have equal money for defense and non-defense."

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Pelosi added, "We're optimistic; we want to be cooperative. We want to negotiate in good faith to see that effectively done in a timely fashion."

Some of the acrimony within the GOP stems from the division among the conservatives who want to oust House Speaker John A. Boehner. Some have indicated they will seek to remove Boehner if he concedes on Planned Parenthood funding.

Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said congressional Republicans have "shown no interest" in talks with Democrats.

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