WASHINGTON, March 7 (Reuters) - After dining with a group of Republican senators, U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday will have lunch with the top Republican and Democrat on the House of Representatives Budget Committee in a bid to bridge differences on the nation’s pressing fiscal issues.
The president will have lunch with Republican chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the committee’s top Democrat, congressional and White House sources said.
Thursday’s meeting will follow days of outreach by Obama, who dined with a dozen Republican senators on Wednesday and made a series of telephone calls to various members of Congress earlier in the week after across-the-board budget cut known as the “sequester” kicked in.
At issue is the stalemate over the U.S. budget and how to rein in growth of the $16.7 trillion federal debt. Obama and fellow Democrats want to narrow the fiscal gap with spending cuts and tax increases, while Republicans oppose raising taxes and want to do it all with cuts.
Republican Senator Dan Coats said Wednesday’s dinner produced “a very adult discussion.”
“Instead of being on the campaign trail and the president trying to make his point, we were working together and talking together about the real essence of our problem and how we can get this thing turned from this never-ending short-term fix fiscal cliff stuff into a long-term solution to our fiscal problem,” Coats, of Indiana, said on Thursday on CNN.
Next week, Obama is meetings with members of both political parties on Capitol Hill.