By Sam Youngman - 04/08/11 01:41 AM EDT
After meeting with congressional leaders again to try to avert a government shutdown, President Obama said Thursday night that no budget deal has been reached but that he expects "an answer in the morning."
Obama spoke to reporters after another meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), saying that there are still big differences on funding the government for the rest of the fiscal year, but "those differences have been narrowed."
"I'm not yet prepared to express wild optimism, but we're further along today than we were yesterday," Obama said in his second late-night visit to the White House briefing room in about 24 hours.
“We have narrowed the issues, however, we have not yet reached an agreement. We will continue to work through the night to attempt to resolve our remaining differences,” the statement read.
Back on the Senate floor after the meeting, Reid added, "In 26 hours and 15 minutes this government closes if we don't work something out quickly."
Obama, joined in the briefing room by Vice President Joe Biden and White House chief of staff Bill Daley, said that both the White House and congressional staffs will "be working around the clock" on Thursday night and into Friday morning.
"What I’ve said to the Speaker and what I’ve said to Harry Reid is, because the machinery of the shutdown is necessarily starting to move, I expect an answer in the morning," Obama said.
The president said he hopes to go to the American people "some time relatively early in the day" on Friday and announce to them "that a shutdown has been averted."
"That's what I hope to be able to announce tomorrow, but there is no certainty," Obama said.
The White House announced that Obama's previously scheduled trip to Indiana on Friday had been canceled. Obama was to have traveled to Indianapolis for an event touting clean-energy production.
The president again railed against a shutdown, noting that 800,000 federal employees would be furloughed and warning that the country's economy, which is in the beginnings of a recovery, could fall into another recession.
"We've been working very hard over the last two years to get this economy back on its feet," Obama said. He added, "For us to go backwards because Washington couldn't get its act together is unacceptable."