By Justin Sink
President Obama will host the Senate Democrats for a meeting Wednesday evening at the White House.
The reception, to be hosted on the ground floor of the White House, is expected to last about an hour and will be primarily social rather than focused on specific political topics.
Vice President Biden will attend the event, the White House announced. In January, other top White House aides, including chief of staff Denis McDonough, presidential counselor John Podesta, and legislative affairs director Katie Beirne Fallon also made appearances.
The president will undoubtedly be looking to bolster support among some of his legislative allies after what has been a trying few months for the administration and Congress.
In recent weeks, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, expressed outrage over the White House’s decision to make a controversial prisoner swap with the Taliban to free Army Sgt. Bowe Berghdal.
“It's very disappointing that there was not a level of trust sufficient to justify alerting us," Feinstein said earlier this month.
And on Tuesday, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) blasted the administration’s handling of controversy over nearly two years of missing emails belonging to Lois Lerner. Lerner is the official at the center of allegations that the Internal Revenue Service intentionally targeted conservative political groups. McCaskill said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who was appointed by the president following initial revelations about political targeting, has done “a terrible job” and appeared “arrogant.”
“It looks terrible. And it allows — there have been a lot of hearings on this and honestly, it gives some much steam behind this as an issue,” McCaskill told MSNBC.
Democrats have also expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in Iraq, with some more liberal members worrying that it could compel the president to engage in military action. Key Democratic members of the Senate foreign relations committee have said they believe Obama needs to consult with them before taking any military action.
The lawmakers may also discuss an electoral strategy headed into the 2014 midterms, where Democrats risk losing control of the upper chamber. Last week, presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett said the White House remained confident they would be able to do so, but polling suggests Republicans are slight favorites to win the six seats they need.
If January was any indication, Republicans could pounce on the session as a fundraising opportunity. Back then, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) emailed supporters criticizing the president’s private meeting with his fellow Democrats.
"So what's the President's big idea for helping the economy getting back on track? Well, last night, according to published news reports, he was drinking martinis and plotting his 2014 political strategy with his fellow Democrat party members," Cornyn wrote.
“Rather than talking to Republicans in bipartisan discussion about how we could come together on real solutions to the problems that face our economy and people out of work, the President instead has defaulted in favor of poll-tested ideas and political gimmicks leading into the run-up to the 2014 election," Cornyn continued. "Now, sipping martinis and plotting politics while millions of Americans are out of work shows just how out of touch the President has become."