News / USA

Obama Plans More Outreach to Republicans

TEXT SIZE - +
Kent Klein
— President Barack Obama is reaching out to opposition Republicans in Congress in hopes of finding an agreement on ways to cut the U.S. deficit.  The effort is a sudden change from the president's recent strategy of criticizing Republicans and appealing directly to the American people.

Obama will spend much of the coming week on Capitol Hill, meeting with lawmakers from both parties and looking for solutions to the deficit and other issues.

The president's new outreach began Wednesday, when he treated 12 Republican senators to dinner at a luxurious Washington hotel.

The next day, he had lunch with Congressman Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, as well as Congressman Chris Van Hollen, the senior Democrat on the panel.

Both sides described the discussions as productive and pleasant, even if any deals on the deficit appear to be months away.

In his weekly address Saturday, President Obama said progress was made in several areas, and compromise is possible.

"We had an open and honest conversation about critical issues like immigration reform and gun violence, and other areas where we can work together to move this country forward.  And next week, I’ll attend both the Democratic and Republican party meetings in the Capitol to continue those discussions," he said.

Watch President Obama's weekly address:



Obama's tone was far more conciliatory than in the previous week's address, in which he blamed Republicans for allowing automatic government budget cuts to take effect.

"Here’s the thing: none of this is necessary.  It’s happening because Republicans in Congress chose this outcome over closing a single wasteful tax loophole that helps reduce the deficit," he said.

In his failed attempt to avert the automatic cuts, the president kept engagement with Republican leaders to a minimum.  Instead, he made several campaign-style trips, calling on Americans to put pressure on Republican lawmakers to agree to his deficit reduction plan.  

Now, Obama is bypassing top Republicans in favor of building support among other Republican members of Congress.

On Thursday, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the president's negotiating partner in the past, said he hopes something will result from the new White House effort.

"And I frankly think it is a somewhat hopeful sign that the president, now in his second term, is beginning to understand that even the leaders have to have support from the members," he said.

Still, major disagreements on spending and taxes persist, as Senator Jeff Sessions indicated in this week's Republican address.  

"President Obama speaks of his deep concern for struggling Americans, yet his plans are focused on growing government - not the economy," he said. "He has no effective plan to create better jobs, more hiring or rising wages.  That’s what’s missing."

Both the Republican senators who had dinner with the president and White House press secretary Jay Carney have cautioned that bridging the partisan divide will be difficult and an agreement is far from a sure thing.  But both sides say the first step has been taken.

Watch weekly Republican address:

You May Like

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid