Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he is “confident” President Barack Obama will meet with his Democratic Conference next Wednesday, even as a White House spokesman confirmed Obama had rejected a last-minute invitation from Senate Republicans to attend their Thursday lunch.
Reid began the morning by announcing that the Senate would stay in session next week instead of taking a July Fourth recess — and now it appears he’d like to make the most of the cancellation.
“What we have to do is too important not to be here and try to resolve what has to be done. We really don’t have any time to waste,” Reid said, adding that Democrats invited the president and Vice President Joseph Biden to the Hill next Wednesday and the administration’s economic team, led by Gene Sperling, Thursday.
On the meeting with the president, the Majority Leader said, “We are confident they will be able to be here or we’ll go there.”
A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While Democrats were holding a press conference with reporters on the Hill, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Obama had declined an invitation from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to come to the Hill on Thursday to lunch with Republicans.
“What the Senator invited the president to do was to hear Senate Republicans restate their maximalist position,” Carney said, repeating a refrain used Wednesday by Obama to describe the GOP’s unwillingness to include revenue raisers in a budget deal. “That’s not a conversation worth having.”
Although the looming August deadline to raise the debt ceiling and the deficit reduction package that must come with it are the central focus as Congress prepares to meet next week, Reid also indicated he would bring a resolution on Libya to the floor when the Senate reconvenes. Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) also is planning to unveil a budget plan Tuesday.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.