The Times West Virginian

Headline News

March 11, 2013

Officials work on budget logjam

Some say Obama’s efforts to bridge gap seem to be ‘sincere’

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers said Sunday they welcome President Barack Obama’s courtship and suggested the fresh engagement between the White House and Congress might help yield solutions to the stubborn budget battle that puts Americans’ jobs at risk.

Yet the lawmakers cautioned that years of hurt feelings were unlikely to heal simply because Obama dined last week with Republican lawmakers. They also said they would not to rush too quickly into Obama’s embrace during three scheduled, and unusual, visits to Capitol Hill next week to win them over.

“He is moving in the right direction. I’m proud of him for doing it. I think it’s a great thing,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said. “I’m welcoming (him) with open arms. I think the president is tremendously sincere. I don’t think this is just a political change in tactic. I think he would actually like to solve the problems of this country.”

The White House charm offensive comes as automatic spending cuts have begun to take hold, and if Washington does not block them, they could cut jobs as varied as air traffic controllers, meat inspectors and Head Start teachers.

“I hope that this is sincere,” said Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, who lunched with Obama at the White House last week. “We had a very good, frank exchange. But the proof will be in the coming weeks as to whether or not it’s a real, sincere outreach to find common ground.”

His close friend, Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said lawmakers were unlikely to become fast friends with Obama after four years of being vilified in private and, in some cases, public.

“I hope that he’s genuine. But I don’t think we’re going to be doing the Harlem Shake any time soon together,” Gardner said.

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.

“I don’t know what he’s doing, but I would encourage him to do more of it,” said Republican former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a brother and son to U.S. presidents who visited five Sunday shows to keep buzz building toward a potential presidential candidacy in 2016. “People are more willing to do so if they believe that their partner is sincere in their efforts. And the only way you can do that is to engage them on a personal level.”

Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, the No. 3 GOP lawmaker in the House, said Obama’s visit might be plain politics and tried to tamp down expectations.

“He has problems on both sides of the aisle. He hasn’t brought many people to the White House; he doesn’t know that many people in the House; he knows more people in the Senate because he served there for a couple of years,” McCarthy said. “He is coming to the House Republican Conference, which I think is positive. He has only done that once before. But he should come and listen, communicate and try to find where we can find common ground.”

Even members of the president’s own party said the outreach was needed.

“I think frustration by the American people — and frustration by members of Congress as well — have stemmed from the fact that a lot of these debates have taken place on TV or on the House floor but have not had very meaningful discussion,” said first-term Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.

Coburn, Gardner, Kaine and Gabbard appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Ryan spoke to “Fox News Sunday.” Bush appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union,” ABC’s “This Week,” “Meet the Press,” CBS’s “Face the Nation” and “Fox News Sunday.” McCarthy appeared on “State of the Union.”

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • U.N. school in Gaza in cross-fire; 15 killed

    A U.N. school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of Palestinians seeking refuge from fierce fighting came under fire Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and leaving a sad tableau of blood-spattered pillows, blankets and children’s clothing scattered in the courtyard.

    July 25, 2014

  • Jet with 116 on board crashes in Mali

    An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation disaster in a week.

    July 25, 2014

  • Two more planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in Netherlands

    Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

    July 25, 2014

  • Obama demands ‘economic patriotism’

    Staking out a populist stand ahead of the midterm elections, President Barack Obama on Thursday demanded “economic patriotism” from U.S. corporations that use legal means to avoid U.S. taxes through overseas mergers.
    “I don’t care if it’s legal,” Obama declared. “It’s wrong.”

    July 24, 2014

  • Airline disasters come in a cluster

    Nearly 300 passengers perish when their plane is shot out of the sky. Airlines suspend flights to Israel’s largest airport after rocket attacks. Two airliners crash during storms. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks in memory, a cluster of disasters spanning three continents.

    July 24, 2014

  • Opponents: Evidence against lethal injection

    The nation’s third botched execution in six months offers more evidence for the courts that lethal injection carries too many risks and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, death-row lawyers and other opponents said Thursday.

    July 24, 2014

  • Ancient Animal Dig.jpg Wyoming cave with fossil secrets to be excavated

    For the first time in three decades, scientists are about to revisit one of North America’s most remarkable troves of ancient fossils: the bones of tens of thousands of animals piled at least 30 feet deep at the bottom of a sinkhole-type cave.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bodies of Malaysian jet victims solemnly returned to Dutch soil

    Victims of the Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine returned at last Wednesday to Dutch soil in 40 wooden coffins, solemnly and gently carried to 40 identical hearses, flags at half-staff flapping in the wind.

    July 24, 2014

  • 48 dead in Taiwan plane crash

    Family members of victims of a plane crash were flying to the small Taiwanese island on Thursday where the plane had unsuccessfully attempted to land in stormy weather, killing 48. There were 10 survivors, and authorities were searching for one person who might have been in a wrecked house on the ground.

    July 24, 2014

  • Agents get subsidized ‘Obamacare’ using fake IDs

    Undercover investigators using fake identities were able to secure taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law, congressional investigators said Wednesday.
    The weak link seemed to be call centers that handled applications for frazzled consumers unable to get through online.

    July 24, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads