Obama discusses political agenda with Congress leaders

Washington, Sep 13 (IANS) US President Barack Obama met with Congress leaders in the White House to discuss political agenda priorities, including funds for the next fiscal year and combating the Zika virus.

The President on Monday met with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and their Democratic counterparts, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, EFE news reported.

Obama said after the meeting in the Oval Office that although he knows that the country is in the middle of election campaigning and everyone was focusing on that, there were still issues to deal with and he felt encouraged by some of the constructive work that was being done at present.

The president wanted to ensure that Congress will stick to the deadlines for approving budgeting for the coming fiscal year, which begins on October 1, and thus avoid a partial shutdown of the federal government due to lack of funds.

In addition, Obama urged lawmakers to move forward on several fronts, including approving funding to fight the Zika virus, providing support for communities in Louisiana that have suffered due to flooding and aiding the city of Flint, Michigan, which has serious problems with its drinking water supply.

Obama and the leaders from Capitol Hill also discussed the problems caused by western forest fires and the bipartisan work that is being done on prison reform, and the president also informed the top legislators about his recent trip to Asia.

An adviser to Ryan said that the leaders discussed their desire to reach a quick solution to a short-term spending law, including financing to fight Zika.

The same source also said that the leaders discussed legislation on caring for military personnel, mental health and medical research.

Regarding the Zika virus, the White House had fruitlessly requested $1.9 billion in funding to combat it before the summer commenced, but McConnell said shortly after the meeting that lawmakers had made important progress on that issue.

The Democrats have repeatedly criticised Republican lawmakers, who have a majority in both chambers of Congress, for having called one of the longest summer recesses in recent years without having dealt with a number of issues critical for the country.

–IANS

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