Nightly News   |  March 09, 2013

Budget battle still raging in Washington

In Washington, widespread automatic spending cuts hit home Saturday, when White House tours were cancelled until further notice. NBC’s Kristen Welker has the latest on the budget battle.

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>> in washington those widespread automatic spending cuts hit home today at the white house where tours were canceled until further notice because of staff reductions. nbc's kristen welker has the latest on the budget battle and how some republicans are already looking forward 2016 .

>> reporter: on this springlike day in the nation's capital, there are plenty of people enjoying the weather. but deep disappointment that the white house is closed.

>> i'm confused on why they didn't do the tours in the white house anymore. and why they still do them at the capitol.

>> we had this trip planned for six months, and to come here to do that and then to find out two days prior that it was canceled was kind of upsetting.

>> reporter: it's all a result of the sequester. washington failed to stop these deep across-the-board spending cuts but the partisan squabbling is somewhat toned down. here's the president in his weekly address today.

>> i still believe that compromise is possible. i still believe we can come together to do big things . and i know there are leaders on the other side of the aisle who share that belief.

>> reporter: still, fundamental divisions persist.

>> president obama speaks of his deep concern for struggling americans, yet his plans are focused on growing government, not the economy.

>> reporter: this, despite a week that brought a bit of a recess. the president uncharacteristically reaching out to republicans. hosting a dinner for 12 gop senators on wednesday.

>> how'd the meeting go?

>> just fine, thanks.

>> reporter: and lunching with former campaign rival paul ryan on thursday.

>> the president believes that chairman ryan is a thought leader in the party.

>> reporter: meanwhile, today, potential 2016 republican presidential candidates were expected to press the flesh at the biltmore resort in coral gables , florida, where party officials were meeting to talk about finances. this is all ahead of one of the largest conservative conferences which will happen next weekend. there are more bipartisan meetings next week, and this time republicans will host the president for lunch at the capitol. which, by the way, remains open for tours. lester?

>> kristen welker at the white