By Justin Sink - 10/14/13 06:49 AM EDT
President Obama said Monday warned lawmakers that if they don’t compromise the U.S. stands “a good chance of defaulting.”
Ahead of a White House meeting with congressional leaders, Obama said that there had been “some progress” in the Senate on a deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.
But he cautioned that “if Republicans aren't willing to set aside some of their partisan concerns,” then the country faced a “potentially devastating” economic calamity.
“There's been some progress on the Senate side, with Republicans recognizing it's not tenable, it's not smart, it's not good for the American people to let America default,” Obama said in comments at a food pantry in Washington D.C. where furloughed federal workers have been volunteering.
Obama was to meet with congressional leaders at 3 p.m., but the meeting was postponed to give Senate leaders more time to craft a deal.
"The President’s 3:00 pm meeting with the bipartisan leadership has been postponed to allow leaders in the Senate time to continue making important progress towards a solution that raises the debt limit and reopens the government," the White House said in a statement.
A new time for the meeting was not announced.
Obama cautioned that he would wait until he met with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to see “whether this progress is real.”
Earlier Monday, Reid and McConnell huddled on Capitol Hill for half an hour. Exiting the meeting, Reid said he was hopeful senators would have an agreement to present to the White House.
The president made his remarks at Martha's Table, a Washington food bank that distributes tens of thousands of meals to homeless and low-income D.C. residents each year.
Federal workers who have been barred from going to work during the shutdown have flooded the charity center to help volunteer during their time off.
“We're lucky to have 10,000 volunteers, but what we've seen in the last few days is an enormous surge in federal employees,” Patty Stonesifer, CEO of Martha's Table, told the Washington Fox News affiliate last week.
Obama said he hoped “that the kind of spirit that is shown by all these outstanding volunteers is going to carry over in the meeting with the leadership this afternoon.”
“These are folks who have not been paid, and in some cases, are very eager to be back on the job, but are not even allowed to work, and yet they're here contributing and giving back to the community, and I think that shows the kind of spirit that we have among all kinds of federal workers all across the country,” he said.
This story was posted at 12:55 p.m. and updated at 2:49 p.m.