President Obama and 12 Republican senators had a "good exchange of ideas" over dinner Wednesday at a Washington hotel, the White House said. Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., appeared to agree.
"His goal is ours. We want to stop careening from crisis to crisis ... solving every problem by meeting the crisis deadline," he told ABC News. "Today was a good step and we'll see what happens."
The dinner at the Jefferson Hotel near the White House was an effort to build bridges across the budget divide. It came five days after the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration kicked in.
In addition to Johanns, the attendees included Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., John McCain, R-Ariz., Dan Coats, R-Ind., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Richard Burr, R-N.C., Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Ron Johnson, R-Wis., John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.
The president and senators spent about 2 hours at the hotel, exiting after 8:30 p.m. The White House said Obama paid for dinner, although ABC reported Hoeven said there was a bipartisan splitting of the tab.
"The president greatly enjoyed the dinner and had a good exchange of ideas with the senators," a senior administration official told reporters.
While assessments of the get-together were generally positive, the attendees did not give details about the discussion.
Coburn told reporters "We'll see" when asked about progress, ABC said.
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