As the third big fiscal deadline of the year looms, President Obama is finally meeting with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill. On Thursday, he invited former Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan to lunch at the White House.
The night before, the president hosted a dozen Republican senators at a hotel for dinner. Pennsylvania's Sen. Pat Toomey was one of them. The dinner lasted more than two hours, and was paid for by the president.
"The discussion with the president was candid, cordial, substantive. We talked about the fiscal problems that faced the country," Sen. Toomey told Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro.
The dinner invitation came less than a week after across-the-board spending cuts kicked in -- cuts Toomey thinks are necessary because of out of control government spending.
But after dinner, the senator didn't go home. He joined Republican colleague Sen. Rand Paul on the Senate floor for an attention-grabbing nearly 13-hour filibuster session, where Paul talked, and talked, and ate, and talked some more about the president's controversial drone program.
"I think what he has done is very, very important at great personal inconvenience to himself to say the least," said Toomey.
The filibuster got an answer from the White House Thursday. Press secretary Jay Carney said, "The president has not and would not use drone strikes against American citizens on American soil."
And the delicious dinner was cordial, but clearly not enough to get Republican senators like Pat Toomey from pushing back against President Obama.
"I've made no secret about my view that fundamental tax reform will be an enormously important component, but unless we curb the spending and bring spending under control …we are not going to have the growth we need…I was glad to have that exchange with the president," he said.
So after weeks of blaming Republicans for budget problems, the president will continue his outreach next week. He'll visit the Capitol to meet with lawmaker. We'll have to wait to see if it will be too little, too late.
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