Share

Policy: Entitlements

Obama to meet with Senate Democrats on Wednesday

By |
Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Barack Obama,Entitlements,PennAve,Budgets and Deficits,Meghashyam Mali,Unemployment

President Obama will meet with members of the Senate Democratic caucus at the White House on Wednesday evening.

The president invited the Democratic lawmakers to “talk about their shared priorities for 2014,” said a White House official.

The meeting, first reported by NBC News, comes as the president looks to build congressional support for a number of initiatives after Obama’s agenda stalled in 2013.

The president is slated to deliver his State of the Union address on Jan. 28 and in the run up has vowed to make combating income inequality a centerpiece of his agenda.

An extension of unemployment insurance is also set for a Senate vote on Monday. Obama has urged lawmakers to reauthorize the jobless benefits which expired for over 1.3 million people in December.

Congressional Republicans though are split over whether to pay for the measure with other budget cuts. The president will speak in Raleigh, N.C. earlier Wednesday on the economy, likely hammering GOP opposition.

The sit down with Senate Democrats also comes two days before Obama will announce his review of the National Security Agency's surveillance practices. The president is studying the recommendations from an outside group which urged new limits on the agency's monitoring and collection of phone and internet data.

Any changes to the NSA’s surveillance could be politically tricky for Obama with both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans urging stricter oversight of the spying agency.

The White House is also working to stave off a Senate vote on new sanctions against Iran. The administration and other world powers have crafted a short-term deal with Tehran that would see Iran freeze aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

Obama has urged lawmakers to give negotiators time to craft a broader agreement, but critics on Capitol Hill say a new round of sanctions are needed to ramp up pressure on Iran. Senate aides told the Washington Examiner that the bill is nearing the support of a veto-proof majority. The White House has warned that new sanctions could jeopardize the deal with Iran.

Obama has been criticized for not reaching out to Congress and in 2013 met separately with the GOP and Democratic caucuses of both chambers in visits to Capitol Hill.

Despite that, much of Obama’s agenda failed to move, with gun control legislation failing in the Senate and the GOP-controlled House failing to take up a bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill.

Obama will face an added challenge in trying to rally congressional support in 2014 as lawmakers prepare for the midterm elections. Democrats have expressed unease after the botched rollout of the president's health care reform law. The glitch-prone healthcare.gov website undercut enrollment efforts and brought the president to the lowest approval ratings of his tenure.

This story was published at 11:15 a.m. and has been updated.

View article comments Leave a comment