Obama hopes this week to woo lawmakers to help avert a coming budget showdown — the next deadline is March 27, when the current short-term budget extension expires and a government shutdown looms.
Yet Congress is scheduled to leave town on March 22, meaning the president is working on a shortened timeline to avert the latest crisis. And the automatic spending cuts, known as sequester, remain in place despite both parties calling them ill-conceived and -executed.
Senate Democrats said they were ready to pass a spending measure to pay for day-to-day federal operations through September. The measure would impose automatic cuts of 5 percent to domestic agencies and 7.8 percent to the Pentagon
“At the end of the day, we’re going to have to find a balanced solution,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat whose state economy is closely tied to military contractors. The budget cuts are expected to be devastating to Virginia if they are not reversed.
Coburn said he was puzzled that it took so long for Obama — whom he called a friend after last week’s dinner — to make the effort to work across party lines.
“It shouldn’t be news that the president is reaching out in a bipartisan fashion,” Coburn said.
Obama seems to be making up for lost time after four years of frosty relationships with Capitol Hill. The White House said Obama planned to meet with the Senate Democratic Caucus on Tuesday, House Republicans on Wednesday and Senate Republicans and House Democrats on Thursday. Last week, Obama had Ryan and the Budget Committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, to lunch at the White House the day after he dined with a dozen Republican senators.