Obama confident of deal as US government faces shutdown

US president Barack Obama has said he remains confident a government shutdown can be avoided this weekend when a funding bill expires.

Mr Obama spoke after a hastily-arranged White House meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders which underscored the stakes of the deepening political fight over public spending.

After winning control of the lower chamber, Republicans have vowed to slash spending.

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Politicians must reach a deal by Friday at midnight, when the temporary government funding bill is set to expire. Federal agencies’ day-to-day operations through the end of the budget year are at stake.

A partial government shutdown would also see the closure of national parks, the Smithsonian Institution and its world-class collection of museums clustered along the National Mall within sight of the Capitol.

Even space exploration is at risk. Nasa spokesman Bob Jacobs said he was unable to predict what the impact would be on preparations for the shuttle Endeavour’ flight on April 29, or Atlantis trip into space on June 28.