WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama hosted Republican senators at the White House Wednesday evening, with dinner conversation including the deficit, gun control and immigration.
A White House official characterized their discussion over steak and sautéed vegetables as constructive and wide ranging, including all three of the pressing issues at the top of the president's agenda. Their dinner came on the same day that Obama unveiled a $3.8 trillion budget proposal and on the eve of a debate over gun legislation on the Senate floor.
Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson compiled the invitations to the White House's Old Family Dining Room, at Obama's request. Among those on the list were Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Arkansas' John Boozman, Maine's Susan Collins, Idaho's Mike Crapo, Wyoming's Michael Enzi, Nebraska's Deb Fischer, Utah's Orrin Hatch, Kansas' Pat Roberts, Florida's Marco Rubio, South Dakota's John Thune and Mississippi's Roger Wicker.
Hatch spokeswoman Antonia Ferrier said the discussion included tax reform and entitlements. Some lawmakers from the president's party are angered that Obama has proposed cuts to Medicare and Social Security in an attempt to compromise with Republicans. Ferrier said Hatch wanted to leave the details of their discussion private.
Obama had a similar dinner last month with other Republican senators at a hotel near the White House. The White House official, who spoke on a condition of anonymity about the private discussion, said the president hoped to have more bipartisan conversations in the coming weeks.