Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was pleasantly surprised by the candid private meeting Senate Republicans had with President Barack Obama on Thursday to discuss the upcoming vote to raise the debt ceiling.
Obama met with the full Senate Republican Conference at the White House, one day after a similar get-together between Obama and Senate Democrats. The president is also expected to meet with the House Democratic and GOP Conferences on the budget.
McConnell described the meeting as productive and complimented the president on fostering a candid exchange of views — a significant takeaway considering that previous such meetings between Obama and Senate Republicans have not gone well.
“I was skeptical as to whether this meeting was worth having,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters during a Capitol Hill news conference. “I thought the meeting was really constructive and worth everybody’s time.”
McConnell reiterated that he believes the most likely vehicle for reaching a budget and debt limit agreement will be the bipartisan group of Senate and House Members that has been meeting with Vice President Joseph Biden.
“The most important Democrat in America is the president of the United States. The only American in the country who can sign a bill into law is also the president of the United States. Unless he is directly involved in the discussion, it will not lead to an outcome,” McConnell said. “We’ve got plenty of discussions going on around the House and Senate on a bipartisan basis on a whole variety of issues, and that’s not insignificant. But what I’m interested in is, how do you make something happen?”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.