Obama to dine tonight with GOP senators

Obama Dinner
Posted at 5:26 PM, Mar 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-06 17:26:00-05

WASHINGTON (AP) — A restaurant near the White House will be the scene of tonight's dinner get-together involving President Barack Obama and a dozen Republican senators.

The dinner will be followed up next week by a rare trip by Obama to Capitol Hill -- where he'll meet with Senate Republicans next Thursday. He's also planning a separate meeting with House Republicans.

The outreach effort follows Washington's failure to avert the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts that started going into effect Friday.

A White House official says Obama first raised the idea of a dinner during a phone conversation earlier this week with one of the Republican senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. He asked Graham to put together the guest list.

Members of the GOP leadership are being left out of the dinner. They also weren't among the Republican lawmakers Obama started calling over the weekend.

Aides say the president's calls have been focused partly on jump-starting the budget talks -- but also on Obama's proposals to overhaul immigration laws and enact tougher gun control measures.