Morning Action: Obama Asks Republicans on Second Dinner Date

DINNER DATE.  A week after making clear he was “deeply disappointed” by Republican Senators’ “unjustified filibuster” of Caitlin Halligan, President Barack Obama decided it was time to ask them for another dinner date:

Obama will have his second dinner in as many months with Senate Republicans on April 10, a White House official confirmed. The president dined earlier this month with a group of Republicans at the Jefferson Hotel, part of a charm offensive. 

The new dinner is being coordinated by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). A spokesman for the senator said the president called him in the last two weeks and asked if he would like to help organize a second dinner and Isakson replied he would be happy to. 

The dinner party – no location or guest list has been announced yet – will come during what will otherwise likely be a fiery week for Obama and the Republican opposition. 

The president is set to release his budget that week – a package of new spending programs and tax hikes that the GOP is sure to oppose. He will also be pushing for quick progress on a bill to overhaul immigration laws and to pass legislation to try to reduce gun violence. 

We cannot help but wonder if these Senators will once again express optimism after their dinner date.

AMNESTY, PART 1.  In an effort to appear engaged in a process that he is completely disengaged from, President Obama took to Univision to express optimism on the issue of immigration:

President Obama expects an immigration bill to come before the Senate next month and voiced optimism that a final bill could pass through Congress this summer. 

A bipartisan group of senators, known as the “Gang of Eight,” missed a self-imposed deadline to submit a comprehensive immigration reform bill by the end of March, sparking concern that the group had reach an unsolvable impasse. But Obama said on Wednesday that the group is “actually making progress” and that they are very close to reaching a final agreement on a bill. 

“I’m actually optimistic that when they get back they will introduce a bill,” Obama said during an interview with Univision. “My sense is that they have come close and my expectation is that we’ll actually see a bill on the floor of the Senate next month.”

GUNS.  As momentum wanes on Capitol Hill and public opinion calms, gun-grabbing groups are planning a “National Day to Demand Action.”  At the same time, Obama White House finds itself on the defensive:

One reporter questioned whether the string of speeches, Google hangouts and weekly addresses have had any effect, noting the Senate left provisions out of its gun package that those events were intended to push. 

Earnest pushed back, insisting the White House has made progress. 

“Now, does it mean — I can’t stand here and guarantee that it’s going to pass, but it is a question that 100 senators are going to ask themselves when they wake up in the morning and look themselves in the mirror about whether or not they are going to — about which side they’re going to be on when it comes to voting on a ban on military-style assault weapons,” he said. “And the President will certainly continue to advocate for senators to support that ban.”

Calling a vote “progress” isn’t leadership, it’s just lame Washington-style spin intended to pacify the President’s political base. 

AMNESTY, PART 2.  Not one to be left out of a media cycle, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) once again declared the Senate’s closed-door immigration working group was “close” to a final agreement:

“The bottom line is we’re very close,” Schumer said, striking an optimistic note. “I’d say we’re 90 percent there. We have a few little problems to work on, we’ve been on the phone with our four colleagues all day.” 

Schumer made the comments after he and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) toured the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Ariz., on Wednesday. The four are all members of the “Gang of Eight” senators who have been drafting a bill to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws. 

The group unveiled its framework in January and has been negotiating the details, with hopes to introduce a bill by the end of April.

Senator McCain felt compelled to add: “Nobody is going to be totally happy with this legislation.”  Apparently, according to McCain, “that’s what makes for good legislation.” 

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