The dinner between President Barack Obama and a group of Senate Republicans on Wednesday – described by different attendees as “honest,” “interactive,” and “cordial” – launched the latest attempt by the chief executive to cultivate alliances with rivals who have stood opposed to his policy proposals.
On Thursday, Obama invited Rep. Paul Ryan and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Republican and Democrat on the House Budget Committee, to lunch at the White House. And next week he’ll attend meetings on Capitol Hill with the entire House and Senate Republican coalitions, along with members of his own party.
Obama is attempting to reach rank-and-file lawmakers, who he’s largely avoided in budget negotiations, choosing instead to work with the party’s leadership. Social events with lawmakers were also largely absent from his calendar during his first term and the president was criticized for that from some members of Congress, including Democrats.
Obama took a blame-Congress approach in the showdown over the forced spending cuts that went into effect on Friday. A White House official told CNN on Wednesday that the president’s outreach was a “change in approach” following the deadline-driven atmosphere of the previous week.
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