President Barack Obama will convene a news conference late this morning in his first formal question-and-answer session since the high-stakes debt and budget negotiations began — talks that have imploded in recent days in a tax duel between Republicansn and Democrats.
Obama, who also is set to meet today with Senate Democratic to discuss the stalled budget talks, is expected to open with comments about spurring the economy and job growth, and touch on the deficit talks that have occupied Vice President Joe Biden and congressional leaders over the past several weeks.
Obama's last full-blown news conference was in March, when turmoil in Libya and the threatened shutdown of the government were making headlines. He has since answered questions in brief sessions with reporters during a European trip and during a joint White House appearance with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Today's news conference comes amid persistent signals that the economic recovery has slowed.
Obama has been stepping up his promotion of job creation initiatives amid evidence that the economy has weakened his job approval standing with the public. Obama, no doubt, will also have to address the status of negotiations with Congress over long-term deficit reduction and an increase in the nation's borrowing limit.
Obama and Biden also plan to meet with Senate Democratic leaders today, the latest step in debt negotiations with Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will make his second trip to the Oval Office this week. Joining him will be Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Chuck Schumer of New York, and Patty Murray of Washington.
Obama's involvement represents a new stage in the discussions. Biden had been leading bipartisan negotiations that had identified up to $1.3 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years. But the talks stalled because Republican negotiators objected to Democratic demands that any deficit reduction deal also include increases in tax revenue.
Obama met with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday. No new meetings with Republicans are scheduled.
Also at the news conference, the president is also likely to face foreign policy questions. For the past three months, the U.S. has participated in NATO strikes against Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Libya, raising questions in Congress about the effectiveness and even the legality of the mission.
Obama also recently announced a drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, prompting criticism by some lawmakers that he was not pulling enough forces out and by others that he was acting too precipitously.
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