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Biden, lawmakers have 'productive' meeting on budget

May 05, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli and Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau
(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg )

Vice President Joe Biden said he had a "good, productive" meeting with members of Congress as he kicked off a series of meetings with congressional leaders on budget issues.


FOR THE RECORD
An earlier version of this post misidentified Assistant House Minority Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina as John Clyburn.

No tangible progress was made at the summit at Blair House, located across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, but Biden said the discussions would continue on Tuesday.

Biden, a senator from Delaware for more than 36 years, has been tasked with heading up talks with congressional leaders on the terms of a deal to raise the limit on how much the federal government can borrow. The group is also intended to work on what Biden said was the "much larger looming issue" of the nation's long-term debt.

The first meeting was to serve to "make sure each of us understands where the other guy is coming from," Biden told the group, adding that he was optimistic they could find solutions.

Several proposals were put on the table as the White House and congressional Democrats and Republicans outlined their starting positions, those involved said.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said the talks were "serious and productive."

For the House GOP, the most important message was the need to make immediate spending cuts.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia came to the table with the budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), but made it clear to those in the room that the priority for the House GOP was to deliver spending cuts.

The administration said both sides will have to back off "maximalist positions" if a deal is to be reached.

"We welcome any efforts, indications, that parties to these negotiations are searching for common ground, and look forward to these talks getting underway and to having them produce a result," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday morning as the president traveled to New York for a memorial service at ground zero.

Participating in Thursday's session were two Republicans -- Cantor and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona -- and four Democrats -- Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana, Assistant House Minority Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina and Van Hollen.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and White House budget director Jack Lew also attended.

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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