March 1 is the start date for $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts, known in Washington as "the sequester," that would drain the money from the Pentagon and other domestic agencies over the next seven months. The White House has warned that thousands of FBI agents, prosecutors, food safety inspectors, air traffic controllers and other federal workers would either be laid off or furloughed.
Obama has called on Congress to pass a smaller package of spending cuts and measures to close tax loopholes to buy time to negotiate a broader agreement. Republicans so far have rejected that idea.
On Friday, Obama was meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Obama telephoned Abe last week to discuss North Korea's recent nuclear test.