U.S. President Barack Obama (L) sits alongside House Speaker John Boehner during the unveiling of a statue in honor of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, February 27, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) sits alongside House Speaker John Boehner during the unveiling of a statue in honor of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, February 27, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama plans to meet with congressional leaders Friday, the day that $85 billion in automatic budget cuts kick in.
 
The White House says the talks are meant to be a "constructive discussion" on doing something about the automatic cuts, known as the sequester.

President Obama says the cuts will harm the economy, force thousands of people from their jobs, and hurt military readiness. He wants to combine spending cuts with ending certain tax exemptions for the wealthy and for corporations.

Many Republicans oppose any kind of tax hikes and want to focus on spending cuts.

On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed former White House chief of staff Jack Lew as the new treasury secretary. Lew is likely to be at the center of difficult negotiations with Congressional Republicans on reaching a budget deal.