Obama to visit Capitol Hill four times next week

WASHINGTON Fri Mar 8, 2013 4:36pm EST

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks before he signs the Violence Against Women Act while at the Department of Interior in Washington, March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks before he signs the Violence Against Women Act while at the Department of Interior in Washington, March 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama rarely makes the short trip to Capitol Hill from the White House, but next week his motorcade will be tying up traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue as he tries to convince Congress to come to a deficit deal.

Obama will visit Senate Democrats on Tuesday, and meet Republicans in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. On Thursday, he will make two separate trips to the Hill: first to meet Senate Republicans, then later to meet House Democrats.

Other than for his annual State of the Union address, or ceremonial events such as the recent dedication of a statue to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, Obama seldom visits lawmakers on the Hill.

But the president is looking for a deal to end two years of fighting over the deficit, and in recent days has shown a new interest in reaching out to rank-and-file lawmakers about his spending and tax reform proposals.

"I think you could view this as an opportunity for the president to engage (in) a new line of communication and an open and constructive dialogue that could contribute to a solution," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters. "I think it will be a constructive opportunity for dialogue."

Obama had focused on taking his message on the deficit directly to Americans through campaign-like events. But this week, he had dinner with a dozen Republican senators, and lunch with Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee and the party's 2012 vice presidential nominee. Obama has made phone calls to other lawmakers.

The new "schmooze offensive" comes after a bitter fight with congressional leaders over averting the so-called "fiscal cliff" of broad tax increases, and a more recent failure to come to a deal to avoid $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that kicked in on March 1.

There is now a brief pause in dire financial deadlines. The government's authority to borrow new money runs out on May 19, but the Treasury Department is expected to take steps to push the deadline to raise the "debt ceiling" to late July or early August.

Lawmakers have said they have four to six months to come to a major deal on cutting spending on social programs and overhauling the tax code to get rid of loopholes.

Obama is pushing for higher taxes on some Americans and wants the revenues earmarked for deficit reduction, while Republicans want to lower tax rates across the board.

Obama's visits will come during a week that House Republicans and Senate Democrats release competing budget blueprints for fiscal 2014. Obama's budget won't come until at least April 8, Defense Department officials have said.

On Friday, Earnest declined to say when the budget would be released, other than to say it will be in the "weeks ahead."

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Paul Simao)

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Comments (10)
Norway wrote:
TGI am not american !!!

Mar 07, 2013 9:16pm EST  --  Report as abuse
mb56 wrote:
I’d give him points for trying… but at some point, beating your head against the same wall over and over begins to look just plain dumb. The vast majority of the current batch of Conservatives have no interest in compromise, and a free dinner isn’t going to change that – only throwing them out will get the country moving again.

Mar 07, 2013 9:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Harry079 wrote:
“He can’t waste time on a protracted battle over the budget and sequester”

Kind of like wasting the last 18 months they had to deal with it?

When is the media going to wake up and realize that the real issue is not about raising taxes on the rich or the sequester. The real issue is about the authority to keep borrowing near the 2012 average of $4 billion a day.

The tax increases and the sequester cuts does reduce this absolute need to cover the “already approved” spending to about $2.7 billion a day give or take a few $100 million.

No matter what happens with the other stuff IF the Treasury doesn’t get the authority to keep borrowing at the minimum of $80 billion a month a lot of bad things are going to happen to what the Constitution refers to as “The People”.

Mar 07, 2013 10:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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