President Obama today made a rare appearance in the White House briefing room to push members of Congress to come together on a plan to fund the government until September, in a move signalling that the federal government may be closer to the first shutdown in 15 years.
"At a time when the economy is just beginning to grow, where we're just starting to see a pickup in employment, the last thing we need is a disruption that's caused by a government shutdown. Not to mention all the people who depend on government services," the president said today. "It would be inexcusable for us to not be able to take care of last year's business... simply because of politics."
Obama, who met with Democratic and Republican leaders at the White House today, said he is ready to meet again Wednesday if lawmakers can't find a resolution today.
Leaders from both parties are set to meet again this evening to continue the discussions, though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he is "not optimistic" about the negotiations.
Obama chided Republicans for not meeting Democrats halfway and for inserting proposals that he says are based on ideology.
"What we can't do is have a 'my way or the highway' approach to this problem," the president said. "Nobody gets a 100 percent of what they want. And we have more than met the Republicans halfway at this point."
Days away from the deadline, Republicans and Democrats are at a stalemate over what should be cut in the remainder of the fiscal 2011 budget, and today's meeting bore little fruit.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, stood firm on his claims today that the $33 billion in cuts figure is too little and that while he doesn't want the government to shut down, he will continue fighting for the cuts that Republicans want.
"We're not going to allow the Senate nor the White House to put us in a box where we have to make a choice between two bad options -- cutting a bad deal this week in order to keep the government open or allow the government to shut down due to Senate inaction," he said.
Federal agencies are putting together contingency plans in the case of a shutdown, which last happened during the Clinton administration in 1996.
White House officials have started telling agency and cabinet officials to begin informing managers about shutdown plans.
"We are aware of the calendar, and to be prudent and prepare for the chance that Congress may not pass a funding bill in time, OMB [Office of Management and Budget] today encouraged agency heads to begin sharing their contingency plans with senior managers throughout their organization to ensure that they have their feedback and input," OMB spokesman Ken Baer told ABC News' Jake Tapper.
Boehner's office on Monday also directed House Administration Committee chairman Dan Lungren to issue guidance to all members on how the House would operate if the government shuts down.
All essential staff will still have to report to work but all nonessential staff will be furloughed, according to the committee. The House gift shop, the Capitol Visitors Center, the Botanic Gardens and the flag office will be closed.