GOP Senators on Meeting with Obama: ‘At Least He’s Talking’
(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Senators returned to the Capitol Friday after a meeting with President Obama that one senator described as “good” but “inconclusive.” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who has sketched out an alternative plan to the one presented by the House GOP, said she was able to discuss her plan with the president, but he declined to endorse either proposal.
“The president listened carefully. He said that some of the elements were issues we could work on but he certainly did not endorse,” Collins told reporters. “It was a good exchange but it was an inconclusive exchange.”
“He clearly wants the government to be reopened and he clearly wants at least an extension of the debt limit,” Collins added.
The plan crafted by Collins and several Republican senators would re-open the government and extend the debt ceiling until at least January 2014. The proposal also repeals the medical device tax, introduces more flexibility for managers to deal with sequestration, and requires income verification for the insurance exchanges.
Collins said the meeting signaled “progress” to the extent that President Obama is now sitting down with members of Congress to find a solution to the budget impasse.
“He has sent somewhat conflicting signals about what length of a debt ceiling increase he would accept and what might be attached to it or what might not be, but at least he’s talking to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle,” Collins said. “He may not want to call it a negotiation. That’s what I would call it and I do view that as progress.”
“I think it’s imperative that we act with speed. I’m pleased that the president is now finally engaged,” she added.
But Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the meeting amounted to another “predictable lecture” from the president.
“I think it was more a sign that there were a lot of long-winded people, senators included,” Cornyn said.
After the meeting at the White House, Senate Republicans met for a private lunch in the U.S. Capitol.
“I think we had a very useful meeting with the president. He spent a lot of time with us, and interacted with our members and now we’re back here to actually work on trying to get a solution on a bipartisan basis,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
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