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Corker, Other GOP Senators Have ‘Constructive’ Dinner With Obama

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker described a rare dinner between President Barack Obama and GOP senators as a “very sincere and open discussion” and said he walked away feeling Democrats and Republicans might find a way to solve some of the nation’s fiscal problems, reports Michael Collins.
“I thought it was constructive and left there with a more positive outlook than I did coming in,” the Chattanooga Republican said.
Corker was one of a dozen GOP senators invited to have dinner Wednesday night with Obama at a hotel near the White House to exchange ideas on how they could work together to deal with the nation’s fiscal problems. Obama suggested the get-together in a phone call with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who put together the guest list. The White House said Obama paid for the dinner.
Corker said the group agreed not to disclose specific policy ideas that were discussed. But in general, he said, the discussion involved “some structural reforms that need to take place and certainly a focus on how to get there.”
Democrats and Republicans are looking for ways to blunt the impact of $85 billion in federal budget cuts that took effect last Friday and to avoid a government shutdown March 27, when current funding for federal agencies is set to expire. Also looming is a battle over raising the federal debt ceiling.
Asked if he thought Obama was sincere about wanting to work with Republicans, Corker said, “I did.”
“I think, if anything, that’s what struck people at the meeting more than anything else was the apparent sincerity that was there,” Corker said. “I think everyone there to a person would say it was a good foundation and good beginning, and hopefully it will lead to results.”