U.S. lawmakers are at a standstill on avoiding $85 billion in automatic budget cuts that are to hit the federal government on Friday.
President Barack Obama plans to meet with congressional leaders Friday in their first face-to-face talks since his inauguration in January.
The White House says the talks are meant to be a "constructive discussion" on doing something about the automatic cuts.
The sequester cuts are the result of a failure among lawmakers and the White House to arrive at a compromise U.S. government budget.
Observers say the meeting will look past the cuts to the next looming fiscal crisis, a possible government shutdown at the end of March. The annual congressional process of passing agency spending bills collapsed entirely last year, and lawmakers must act by March 27 to prevent a partial government shutdown.