- 12 updates
US President Barack Obama has told the American people that a series of harmful budget cuts - called the sequester -have taken effect because Congress failed to act.
In his weekly address, he said would continue to "reaching out to them to fix this quickly, as the American people are weary of perpetual partisanship and brinksmanship"
President Barack Obama signed an order authorising the US government to begin cutting $85 billion (£57bn) from federal accounts. By so doing he officially enacted across-the-board reductions that he was opposed but failed to avoid.
Obama acted as the deadline for the president and Congress to avoid the steep, one-year cuts approached on Friday night in the US.
Obama insisted on replacing the cuts, known as a "sequester" in government budget language, with tax increases and cuts spread out over time. Republicans rejected any plan that included tax revenue.
The government said reductions will soon result in furlough notices to government employees and will trim government spending on defence contracts and in domestic government programs. Active military personnel and anti-poverty and low-income assistance programs are largely protected from the cuts.
The White House said Obama has signed the order for 'sequester' budget cuts, the Reuters news agency is reporting.
Following President Barack Obama's comments that he is unable to "do a Jedi mind meld" on those who are holding out on a budget cuts deal, the White House released this image on Twitter:
Underneath the picture of Obama is written, "To deny the facts would be illogical" and a link to wh.gov/jedimindmeld - which links through to the White House's page on the sequester.
While "Jedi" comes from Star Wars, the "mind meld" is featured in Star Trek.
New US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the budget cuts due to go into effect later today will put the Pentagon's missions "at risk".
Speaking at his first Pentagon news conference, Hagel said, "This uncertainty puts at risk our ability to effectively fulfil all of our missions".
He also announced that the US Navy would gradually stand down four air wings and the Air Force would immediately cut flying hours.
However, Hagel said his department was determined to maintain the world's best fighting force.
President Barack Obama has described a series of budget cuts totalling $85 billion as "dumb and arbitrary".
The measures are set to come into effect at 11:59pm tonight after congressional leaders failed to reach agreement on how to tackle the deficit.
There are fears the series of automatic cuts - known as sequestration - could damage US economic growth and lead to hundreds of thousands of job losses.
ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore reports:
As the deadline looms for sequestration to come into effect and bring with it across-the-board budget cuts, both the Republican and Democrat parties have taken to Twitter to express their side of the story:
As the US braces for a series of budget cuts, President Barack Obama told reporters, "We will get through this. This is not going to be an apocalypse".
"It's just dumb. And it's going to hurt. It's going to hurt individual people and it's going to hurt the economy over all", he said following his meeting with congressional leaders.
"Let's be clear - none of this is necessary," the President said. "It's happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made".
"This is not a win for anybody. This is a loss for the American people ... If we stand back and remind ourselves what it is we're supposed to be doing here, then hopefully common sense will out in the end".
Following a meeting with congressional leaders, President Barack Obama said "Washington isn't making it easy" to reach a deal on the upcoming budget cuts.
"These cuts will hurt our economy, they'll cost us jobs, and to set it right both sides need to be willing to compromise", he said.
"We shouldn't be making a series of dumb, arbitrary cuts to things that businesses depend on, and workers depend on, like education, and research, and infrastructure, and defence".
"It's unnecessary, and at a time when too many Americans are looking for work, it's inexcusable", the President added.
US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner has ruled out tax increases as a way to address the nation's deficit after meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss across-the-board budget cuts that will come into effect later today.
"The discussion about revenue, in my view is over. It's about taking on the spending problem," Boehner said in a short statement after the meeting.