Obama dines and talks issues with Senate Democrats

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama regrouped over dinner Wednesday with a dozen Democratic senators, attempting to press ahead on tenuous elements of his agenda after suffering a major setback on gun control.

Emerging from a hotel blocks from the White House, two senators said they were not supposed to talk about what was discussed during the dinner, which spanned more than two hours. But the White House said Obama and the senators discussed immigration, the economy and the need for the House and Senate to find a compromise on the budget.

The president also vowed again to put the full weight of the government behind efforts to track down who is responsible for Monday's twin bombings in Boston that killed three people and injured more than 170 others, the White House said.

"Two thumbs up. Very well," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said of the meeting as he shared after-dinner drinks with Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Michael Bennet of Colorado.

Hours earlier, a visibly exasperated Obama stood with tearful parents of Newtown victims, declaring it a "pretty shameful day for Washington" and lambasting both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate for failing to pass expanded background checks for gun sales — the centerpiece of Obama's push to reduce gun violence.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan said the dinner was "great — very positive," but she did not offer details.

Asked to elaborate on what topics came up, Bennet demurred. "We talked about not talking about it," he said.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington arranged the dinner at Obama's request, the White House said. Also attending were Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein of California, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Chris Coons of Delaware, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

"It is clear to me that President Obama and Senate Democrats are united in our desire to end the constant lurching from crisis to crisis" on the economy, Murray said in a statement after the dinner, adding that Democrats hope Republicans will join them and offer compromises.

Obama told the senators he will continue the fight for gun-control measures that he started after the December schoolhouse shooting in Connecticut, said a White House official, who was not authorized to discuss the private dinner publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. It remains to be seen whether Democrats in the Senate have any appetite for continuing that push.

None of the senators who dined with Obama was among the handful of rural-state Democrats who voted with a majority of Republicans against the background check bill.

Obama has hosted two similar dinners with Senate Republicans in recent months, part of a broader effort to open the lines of communication with lawmakers and improve prospects for striking a deal on Obama's other second-term priorities, including an immigration overhaul and a grand bargain on the budget.


Associated Press writer Stacy A. Anderson contributed to this report.

View Comments (11)

Recommended for You

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the…

  • U.S. may review 1959 airplane crash that killed Buddy Holly

    (Reuters) - U.S. transportation safety investigators said on Wednesday they are reviewing a request to reopen a probe into the 1959 airplane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson, better known as "The Big Bopper," and their pilot. The original investigation 56…

  • France, Cameroon wouldn't take foreigner later shot by LAPD

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A homeless foreigner shot to death by Los Angeles police was in the country illegally after serving time for a bank robbery but couldn't be deported because no country would take him, U.S. immigration authorities said Wednesday.

    Associated Press39 mins ago
  • 175-Pound Pit Bull Hulk Shatters Misconceptions About the Breed

    This dog just may be the world's largest Pit Bull. Only 18-months-old, Hulk weighs a hefty 175 pounds. He's also best friends with a 3-year-old boy.

    ABC News
  • Iranian president says Israel 'greatest danger'

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said Israel creates the "greatest danger" in the region, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against a nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In a speech on Capitol Hill, Netanyahu said Tuesday the nuclear agreement US President…

  • Former marine reported killed in Syria

    A former Royal Marine has become the first Briton to be killed while fighting with Kurdish forces battling Islamic State jihadists in Syria, leaving his family "devastated" Wednesday. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, died on Monday in a battle with IS militants, a source in the Kurdish People's…

  • Killers sought in deaths of 300,000 chickens in South Carolina

    By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Revenge may be the motive for the killings in South Carolina of more than 300,000 commercial chickens worth about $1.7 million over the past two weeks, authorities said on Monday. Birds have been found dead of unnatural causes in 16 chicken houses at…

  • Americans Love K-Cups, but Their Creator Regrets Inventing Them

    Now it seems that John Sylvan, the inventor of the tiny containers, is firmly on Team #KillTheKCup too. “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” said Sylvan.

  • Australians on Indonesia death row arrive on execution island

    Two Australian drug smugglers were taken Wednesday to an Indonesian island where they will be executed despite frantic diplomatic efforts to save them, as Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia was "revolted" by their looming deaths. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the…

  • Marijuana Growers Arrested After Pocket Dialing 911

    Three men in California were arrested Monday night after one of the suspects pocket dialed 911. The emergency operator who took the call heard two of the men talking about the possibility of getting pulled over, leading to a major drug bust.

    KSWB - San Diego
  • 'Thousands' of Russian troops in east Ukraine: US envoy

    The United States' senior envoy to Europe alleged Wednesday that Russia had deployed "thousands and thousands" of troops to neighboring Ukraine. Speaking to a congressional foreign affairs committee, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland also told US lawmakers that Russia was flooding…

  • Couple plead not guilty to locking up kids 22 hours a day

    ASHTABULA, Ohio (AP) — A husband and wife in Ohio pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that they kept three of their adopted children locked up 22 hours a day, gave them little to eat and beat them with a paddle that became stained with blood.

    Associated Press
  • Afghan forces kill dozens of militants in hostage rescue operation

    By Sarwar Amani KANDAHAR (Reuters) - Afghan security forces have killed dozens of militants in a military operation aimed at freeing a group of civilian hostages in southern Afghanistan, an army official said on Wednesday. Eyewitnesses said most passengers belonged to the ethnic Hazara minority, a…

  • Paris Hilton brother Conrad to plead guilty to plane assault

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paris Hilton's youngest brother, Conrad, agreed to plead guilty to assaulting flight attendants on a trip from London to Los Angeles last year when authorities say he called other passengers "peasants" and threatened to kill crew members.

    Associated Press
  • Ferguson Officials React to Department of Justice Report

    Officials in Ferguson will comment Wednesday on a scathing report from the Department of Justice about the police department`s treatment of African Americans.

  • Hundreds of starving koalas killed in Australia

    Close to 700 koalas have been killed off by authorities in southeastern Australia because overpopulation led to the animals starving, an official said Wednesday, sparking claims of mismanagement. Victoria state Environment Minister Lisa Neville said the koalas were euthanised around Cape Otway near…

  • Georgia police officer killed in shootout

    By David Beasley ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia police officer was killed in a shootout with a suspect in suburban Atlanta early on Wednesday, authorities said. Officers went to investigate reports of shots in a suburban neighborhood and came under fire about 1:30 a.m. EST, according to the Fulton…