GOP Senators Want to Hear From Obama About Spending

Posted May 25, 2010 at 8:14am

Updated: 10:57 a.m.

President Barack Obama is set to journey to Capitol Hill Tuesday for a private noon meeting with the Senate Republican Conference, and Republicans say they want to hear the president talk about controlling government spending.

Obama’s scheduled one-hour visit with the Republicans during their weekly, closed-door caucus lunch came at the request of the White House. GOP sources say the president has not asked to address any subject in particular, and said that the discussion will be wide-ranging. It was unclear whether Obama’s appearance would include a question-and-answer session. Unlike the president’s meeting with House Republicans earlier this year, the gathering will not be televised.

If GOP Senators do have an opportunity to ask the president questions, it’s likely they’ll want to know about his plans to reduce government spending and accelerate economic growth and job creation.

“I think we’d like to hear what the plans are to start controlling spending. I think that’s the No. 1 issue,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who faces the prospect of a competitive race for re-election this year. “If I were him that’s what I’d focus on.”

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), elected in a special election in late January, said he’s looking forward to meeting Obama in person for the first time. Both Brown and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said they’d like the president to address government spending and economic growth.

“There are so many things that are happening,” Sessions said. “But I think, fundamentally, we need to have the president confront the financial crisis we’re in and give us some confidence that they are committed to reversing our reckless spending trends.”

Brown added that he’d like to hear “how we’re going to get America back to work — what he’s going to do for job creation.”

Obama is likely to use the session to pitch his recent proposal for a form of the line-item veto. The president’s plan, unveiled Monday, was greeted with divisions on both sides of the aisle, as fiscal conservatives signaled their support and appropriators balked.

The administration’s proposal, the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act, would allow the president to submit a package of rescissions shortly after a spending bill is passed. Congress would have to consider the recommendations as a package, without amendment, and hold an up-or-down vote within a specified time frame.