President Barack Obama, showing growing impatience, said Tuesday it would be "inexcusable" for lawmakers to fail to fund the government through the end of the year in order to avoid a shutdown.
"We are closer than we have ever been to an agreement. There is no reason why we should not get an agreement," Obama said following a White House meeting with congressional leaders.
Appearing before reporters at the White House, Obama said that House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were to meet on Capitol Hill later Tuesday to continue negotiations. If that meeting does not produce an agreement, Obama said he would summon the pair back to the White House Wednesday.
"Myself, Joe Biden, my team - we are prepared to meet for as long as possible to get this resolved," Obama said.
In a statement following the private White House meeting earlier Tuesday, Boehner had said there was no deal. And he warned that House Republicans "will not be put in a box" of accepting options they refuse to endorse.
Boehner has proposed an agreement that would keep the government running for one more week and slash another $12 billion in spending. Boehner has already orchestrated action by Congress to pass a pair of stopgap bills, so far cutting $10 billion from an estimated $1.2 trillion budget to fund the day-to-day operations of government through Sept. 30.
Obama said he would only accept another short-term funding extension, of two or three days, in order to get a longer-term deal through Congress. But he ruled out a longer extension to allow negotiations to continue. "What we are not going to do is once again put off something that should have been done months ago," the president said.
© 2011 The Associated Press.