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Posted at 10:13 AM ET, 03/ 3/2011

Biden to talk spending with congressional leaders today

By Felicia Sonmez

Vice President Biden will meet with congressional leaders from both parties Thursday afternoon to discuss the way forward on keeping the government funded through the end of the fiscal year, Senate aides from both parties said Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are slated to huddle with Biden, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew at 4 p.m. in the Capitol.

The meeting comes one day after President Obama invited the congressional leaders to sit down with Biden and work toward a compromise on keeping the federal government funded past mid-March. Obama on Wednesday signed into law a measure that would keep the government running through March 18 while enacting $4 billion in cuts to programs that he had already targeted in his fiscal year 2012 budget.

McConnell delivered a floor speech Thursday morning in which he said Republicans "are happy to go" to the meeting but are still waiting for details from Democrats on their proposal for a long-term funding plan.

"Putting a meeting on the schedule doesn't change the fact that neither the White House nor a single Democrat in Congress has proposed a plan that would allow the government to remain open and that would respond to the voters by reining in spending," McConnell said. "All we get is talk."

McConnell also criticized what he termed Obama's "audacious assertion" Wednesday that he'd like to work with both parties toward a plan that helps the country "live within our means," seizing on the projection that Obama's fiscal year 2012 budget would add $1.6 trillion to the national debt.

"Does this mean we can expect the president's budget director to present us with a piece of paper that outlines $1.6 trillion dollars in cuts for the current fiscal year?" McConnell asked. "If so, that's great news."

-- Staff writer Lori Montgomery contributed to this report.

By Felicia Sonmez  | March 3, 2011; 10:13 AM ET
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