Coverage of the stalemate in Congress that forced the U.S. government to a standstill

Obama Joins Furloughed Federal Workers Volunteering at Martha's Table

Monday, Oct 14, 2013  |  Updated 4:06 PM EDT
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The president joined furloughed government workers volunteering at Martha's Table in northwest D.C.

The president joined furloughed government workers volunteering at Martha's Table in northwest D.C.

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President Barack Obama joined furloughed federal workers volunteering at a food pantry in northwest D.C. Monday afternoon.

"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 -- people who dedicate their lives to public service, think what they're doing is important in terms of helping this country, and yet find themselves in a situation in which because of politics they're not able to do their jobs," Obama said/

According to the website for Martha’s Table, a number of furloughed workers have been coming in to volunteer.

"Our commitment of providing food to children and families will continue through the federal government shutdown and the devastating cuts to federal programs," the pantry's website reads.

Obama had been scheduled to meet Monday afternoon at the White House with the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate, but the White House says the meeting between Obama and congressional leaders was postponed to give Senate leaders more time to resolve the standoff over the nation's debt and the partial government shutdown.

A new day or time for the meeting wasn't immediately announced.

The delay came as all sides are expressing optimism that they are getting closer to an agreement to end the two-week partial shutdown and avert a potential default on the U.S. debt.

The last meeting between Obama and the congressional leaders was Oct. 2.

"This is fairly simple, and this whole shutdown has been completely unnecessary," Obama said at Martha's Table.

"Keep in mind that the problem isn't that the U.S. government has run out of money; the problem is not that our deficits are going up," he said. "Our deficits have actually been cut in half since I came into office and are continuing to go down. The problem is not that there is not the opportunity for us to work intelligently to come up with a budget that creates long-term fiscal stability while still investing in growth. The problem is that we've seen this brinksmanship as a strategy time and time again to try to extract extreme or partisan concessions."

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