News / USA

Obama Capitol Visits Yield Smiles, No Deal

President Barack Obama waves to members of the media as he heads to a meeting with House Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington,  March 14, 2013.
President Barack Obama waves to members of the media as he heads to a meeting with House Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 14, 2013.
Michael Bowman
President Barack Obama’s third trip to Capitol Hill this week may have boosted his working relationship with lawmakers, but yielded no immediate breakthroughs on a bipartisan path to deficit reduction and improved U.S. fiscal health.  

A smiling but tight-lipped President Obama emerged from a 90-minute closed-door meeting with Republican senators.

“It was a great conversation.  It is great to be back in the Senate," said President Obama.

Republicans, like Senator Lamar Alexander, praised  Obama’s willingness to meet with them face-to-face.

“Relationships are important," said Alexander. "When President [Lyndon] Johnson and [former] Republican leader Everett Dirksen had a good, close relationship, out of it came a civil rights bill in 1968.  So relationships are important - that is step one.  Step two is leadership.  And in our system of government, if anything big is going to happen in a crisis, the president is going to have to lead.  And that was the main message we suggested to him.”

For Republicans, “presidential leadership” means they want Obama to convince Democratic lawmakers to embrace cuts and reforms to government programs as a primary deficit reduction tool. 

But Democrats, including Obama, want a mix of spending reductions and new tax revenue to improve America’s finances while also setting aside funds for domestic priorities like education and infrastructure.  That approach is contained in a budget proposal unveiled by Democratic Senator Patty Murray earlier this week.

“This is a jobs and economic growth budget," said Murray. "We believe that, with an unemployment rate that remains stubbornly high and a middle class that has seen their wages stagnate for too long, we cannot afford any threats to our fragile recovery.”

The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, labeled the Murray budget a “left-wing manifesto.”

“At a time when Americans believe about half of every dollar they send to Washington [in taxes] is wasted, the Democratic budget would increase spending by nearly 62 percent," said McConnell.

Democrats are similarly dismissive of a House Republican budget proposal with a cuts-only approach to deficit reduction.

Senator Charles Schumer:

“The truth is, Congressman Ryan’s fiscal plan relies on a lot of budgetary sleight-of-hand [tricks] in order to create the illusion of a balanced budget," said Schumer. "The document is filled with deceptive gimmicks, far-fetched assumptions, and phony arithmetic.”

With hardened partisanship and harsh rhetoric the norm on Capitol Hill, some might question whether any amount of presidential engagement with lawmakers will yield a compromise budget deal.  But Republican Senator John Hoeven says Obama’s efforts, if sustained, will not go to waste.

“I specifically asked him [Obama] if he would stay involved directly, working with us, working with members of Congress until we get a grand bargain," said Hoeven. "I said, ‘You have to grind it out.  That is the only way we are going to get there.’  He said he would.”

After meeting with Republicans, the president strolled to the other side of the Capitol for a meeting with House Democrats, whose leader, Nancy Pelosi, described Obama as “inspiring, optimistic, and realistic.”

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, even music are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. Faith Lapidus narrates a report from VOA’s June Soh.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, even music are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. Faith Lapidus narrates a report from VOA’s June Soh.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid