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Brown to meet with Obama during DC trip
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SACRAMENTO  (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown is headed to the nation's capital, where he plans to meet with President Barack Obama, members of Congress and his fellow governors.

The Democratic governor left California on Wednesday and will arrive in Washington, D.C., Thursday after a stop in Chicago to see his sister, Kathleen.

The trip's main purpose is for the governor to attend the winter meeting of the National Governors Association. Brown, who has left the state four times since taking office in January 2011, skipped last year's event, citing pressing state business.

The governors association meets Friday through Monday.

A spokesman for Brown, Evan Westrup, would not say what the governor hopes to accomplish during the trip. The office was expected to release a detailed schedule later Wednesday.

Brown is headed to Washington as California grapples with a $9.2 billion budget deficit, but it's not clear whether he will seek additional federal money. Like Obama, Brown supports high-speed rail and is pushing an ambitious rail project in California that has stirred controversy because of its $98 billion price tag.

Several Republicans in the state Legislature have introduced bills to halt its funding, while Republican members of California's congressional delegation want to cut off federal money for high-speed rail.

Brown also must help oversee the implementation of federal health care reform in California. States have until 2014 to create a Health Benefit Exchange, which is intended to help individuals and small businesses buy health insurance at an affordable price.

The governor is making a personal stop to visit his sister before landing in Washington.

Kathleen Brown moved to Chicago after her brother was elected to his most recent term as governor. The move was to avoid any apparent conflict between her position as a Goldman Sachs executive and her brother's new job.

She left her Welsh corgi, Sutter, with California's first couple when she transferred.

Brown is flying Southwest throughout the trip, just as he did during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. That low-budget approach became a political chip for the governor because his Republican opponent, Meg Whitman, traversed the state in a private jet.