President Obama, GOP Senators Break Bread

Mary Bruce
ABC OTUS News
President Obama, GOP Senators Break Bread
President Obama, GOP Senators Break Bread (ABC News)


ABC News' Mary Bruce and Alexandra Dukakis report:

President Obama and Republican senators had a "good exchange of ideas" this evening during their roughly two-hour-long dinner at the posh Jefferson Hotel, just blocks from the White House, according to a senior administration official.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., gave the meeting a thumbs up as he exited the hotel, saying it was "just fine," "great" and "wonderful."

McCain told reporters gathered across the street that it was a "very enjoyable evening," but declined to discuss specifics.

Obama invited 12 GOP senators to break bread as part of a larger effort to jump start budget negotiations and try to cut a deal with rank-and-file Republicans.

"The president greatly enjoyed the dinner," the administration official said.

But did they make any progress?

"We'll see," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told reporters.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., described it as a "good, constructive conversation."

"His goal is ours. We want to stop careening from crisis to crisis … solving every problem by meeting the crisis deadline," said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb. "Today was a good step and we'll see what happens."

The extremely rare meeting has also fostered a new point of contention: Who picked up the tab?

According to the White House, President Obama paid for the meal out of his own pocket.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., however, claimed the bill was split.

And so it continues…

Here is a full list of attendees at tonight's dinner: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind.; Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.; Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.; and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.