The Washington Post

Obama plans statement on the debt deal

President Obama will deliver a statement at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Rose Garden after the Senate vote on the deal to raise the debt ceiling, wrapping up the controversial legislation with just hours remaining before the country faced default.

Already Obama was meeting with interest groups who have been critical of the deal. The executive council of the AFL-CIO spent more than an hour with the president Tuesday, talking about “issues important to working families, including how to continue growing our economy and putting Americans back to work,” according to a White House announcement.

Labor leaders have complained about the steep spending cuts outlined in the $2.4 trillion deficit reduction plan at a time when the economy continues to struggle.

After the meeting, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the labor organization told Obama that job creation should be his focus.

“That has to be his first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth priorities. Jobs, jobs, jobs,” Trumka said. Of the debt deal, he added: “We’re going to try to figure it out. We’re trying to learn what it is. I don’t think anybody quite knows what it is and its effect going forward, the effect on job creation.”

Trumka said the meeting with Obama was productive and frank. He did not criticize the president’s performance in the debt negotiations, but saved most of his ire for House Republicans.

“When you get people who are suicidal in the House of Representatives, who do not care about the economy or creating jobs, it makes things more difficult,” Trumka said. “But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to continue to try. That doesn’t mean [Obama] is not going to continue to try. It’s sort of sad people in the House care so little about citizens in the country.”

On a more uplifting note, Obama will meet Tuesday afternoon with the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour, commanded by Mark Kelly. He is the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who marked a triumphant return to Congress on Monday night after being shot in the head in January.

Giffords is expected to be at the meeting with the president.

This post has been updated since it was first published.

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.


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