(CNN) – Breaking bread with Republican senators. Meeting with the GOP House and Senate caucuses. Sitting down to lunch with the GOP’s budget point man – who tried to bump him from the White House last year.
Is President Barack Obama, as one pundit said, just hungry? Or is he engaging in a newfound effort to bridge gaps between the parties as his second term gets under way? The top Democrat in the House says the latter.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in an exclusive interview to run Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Obama has “been very bipartisan in his approach” to Republicans.
“All of us come here to get a job done for the American people, and certainly that is the case with the president of the United States,” Pelosi told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. “I think that these meetings are not something to say, ‘Well, I’ll do this with you now and do that with them later.’ I think it is, ‘Let’s get some things done together to make elections less important.’”
Obama’s reaches across the aisle come after the politically bruising battle over the so-called fiscal cliff in late December, where lawmakers hammered out a last-minute deal and posturing over the forced federal spending cuts known as the sequester and by all accounts lawmakers and the White House never got close to reaching common ground.
Obama charged Republicans were “protecting special interest tax breaks for the well-off” rather than protecting the economy from harmful cuts, while House Speaker John Boehner said the House had already voted and that Democrats needed to “get off their ass and begins to do something.”
But then came the president’s outreach.
He made phone calls to several Republican senators and then sat down to dinner on Wednesday with a dozen of them at a hotel near the White House to talk about the federal government’s finances.
He ate lunch with the top Republican and Democrat on the House Budget Committee. After the meal with Rep. Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate, and Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Ryan said the meeting was a "frank discussion about Washington's budget challenges."
Next week, Obama is expected to meet with House Republicans on Wednesday and Senate Republicans on Thursday. He also will meet with Senate Democrats on Tuesday and House Democrats on Thursday.
This is ahead of the March 27 deadline to avoid a government shutdown and an expected need to increase the federal debt limit this spring or summer.
He also wants to make progress on immigration reform, education reform and gun violence reduction.
In his weekly address on Saturday, Obama said, "Making progress on these issues won’t be easy. In the months ahead, there will be more contentious debate and honest disagreement between principled people who want what’s best for this country. But I still believe that compromise is possible. I still believe we can come together to do big things. And I know there are leaders on the other side who share that belief."
Pelosi said on CNN that the president's effort was aimed at solutions.
“Let’s come together for the benefit of the American people - first and foremost, that’s our responsibility,” she said. “If he can defuse some of their opposition to some of these issues, bravo again for the American people that we can get a job done for them. That’s far more important than what happens in an election.”
And Republicans are taking note, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who said the recent meetings are a positive sign.
“This is a change that I think we should encourage, whether it’s motivated for all sorts of reasons that we don’t understand or not,” he said. “Ronald Reagan would have done that, George Bush would have done that.”
Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.
83% of the American people want the spending brought under control. Winning 50.89% of the vote in November is NOT a landslide or a mandate.
Ridiculous statistic. 99.72% of Americans want good weather. So what? The President has controlled spending remarkably well for a situation where he was handed the worst recession since the Great Depression. Bush issued the first bailout package. Over 8.5 million jobs were lost before the President took office. Republicans refuse to return to tax rates that existed when we had a surplus and prospered as a nation – choosing instead the Bush rates which, with his two unfunded wars, launched us into the recession. I suggest you be specific. We all know we can save with reforms in welfare, foreign aid, and efficiencies. That's still not the problem. Do you want to slash Medicare, Social Security and Defense? How about increased revenues from closed tax loopholes and a higher rate for the wealthy? Those "job creators" didn't create $h!+, but sat on their money in the Caymans. So put up or shut up! What of the big three do we deeply cut? Do we also ask the wealthy to pay a fair share?
Come On Nancy. This new spirit of bipartisanship from the Left just gags me. How much working across the aisle was done with healthcare, Dodd-Frank and all those new regulatons that have been implemented to skirt Congress. Heck, the POTUS doesn't even go to Congress any more. Except for Reed and Pelosi, he doesn't even meet regularly with members of his own party. He is the POTUS and is ultimately responsible for the dysfunction in Washington. He would be taking full credit if it was working – so he needs to step up and take the blame when its not. It's called LEADERSHIP – not a required subject in Harvard Law.
I spend four years calling you every name in the book and everyone heard me call you every name in the book. How likely are you to even want to talk to me?
I would be amazed if this worked. I do not see these Republicans wanting anything other than for Obama to not be able to accomplish anything. A real sorry type of agenda, but their agenda none the less. 2014. ditch Mitch and keep going from there until real americans fill the offices. Bipartisanship is not a bad word. Dictatorship is. To hold a country hostage for the benefit of 1% seems insane to me. Grow up Republicans, raise taxes and close loopholes.
Yea right, the pompous holier than thou dems....so pathetic. Obama out playing golf with tiger, flying around on vacations...spends thousands on new flowers for fed buildings, etc etc etc...but lets close whitehouse tours...what a maroon. Despite what leefty looons think, most of America is conservative. Obama is a sham, power hungry socialist who DOES NOT want whats best for the country, just whats best for him and his cronies...to all u bush haters, ol George had more class and leadership abilities in his little finger than obamas entire administration.
I can feel the sellout coming.
I'm sure Obama will have that "wind-up handshake joke buzzer" ready...lol
Obama being bipartisan? Please. What a joke. He is the most partisan, thin-skinned president in our nation's history. This is all an obvious charade.
Nancy Pelosi is one of the best Speakers of the House ever. And, she is doing more for this country than most people in the House of Representatives. She is the best.
Some stand and look,
at what others do;
then come and say,
what it ought to be.
To them, the world is never right.
I foresee the GOP trying to play politics for Obama's entire second term. We have at least two years of dysfunction left and if people fail to vote in the mid term it will be longer.
This joker started a culture war and now he wants to play nice?? Never trust a Democrat.
How much " outreach" was there during the Obamacare debacle??
Thank you Jerry.....you are so right. They are so disrespectful of the president plus we tried "their way" and it did not work and when bush left ofc we were losing 800,000 jobs a month!
At least he is making an effort.