Obama plans regular meetings to make up with GOP leaders

President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGOP rep: North Korea wants Iran-type nuclear deal Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight Iran's president warns US will pay 'high cost' if Trump ditches nuclear deal MORE told Republican leaders Wednesday that he will schedule regular meetings with them to discuss his agenda, a gesture GOP lawmakers said was necessary to move legislation with bipartisan support.
 
Democratic leaders and their aides said they did not expect Obama to make such a proposal to Republican leaders.
 

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But GOP senators earlier in the day said that Obama had to reach out to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Ky.) if there was any hope of them signing on to a scaled-down version of healthcare reform, energy or jobs legislation.
 
House Republican Leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE (R-Ohio) spread his arms in somewhat ironic embrace when television cameras turned to him to capture reaction to Obama’s proposal.
 
Obama acknowledged that Republicans might view his offer skeptically.
 
“I know you can’t wait,” Obama quipped.
 
Senior Democratic aides in the Senate and House say that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Memo: Trump pulls off a stone-cold stunner The Memo: Ending DACA a risky move for Trump Manchin pressed from both sides in reelection fight MORE (D-Nev.) already meet with Obama regularly.
 
But some Democrats think there could be more coordination between Congress and the White House after the derailment of the healthcare reform bill, what had been Obama’s top domestic priority.
 
“It’s always good to have more coordination,” said House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.).
 
Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE (D-Ill.) said that Obama had tried to reach out to GOP leaders at the beginning of next year but to little avail.
 
“I know the president started off meeting with the Republican leadership in the House and Senate in hopes of having a more amicable relationship. It hasn’t worked out too well but I’m glad he’s going to continue to try,” Durbin said.
 
Durbin, who is one of Obama’s closest allies in Congress, said he and the president were frustrated by more than nearly 100 filibusters by the Senate GOP.
 
Centrist Republican senators who could serve as potential allies to the administration made clear this week that Obama would have to reach out to the GOP leadership before soliciting their support.
 
“If the Democrats are serious, they ought to focus on McConnell and that will require some substantial negotiations,” said Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.).
 
Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) said Obama made a mistake at the beginning of his term by failing to establish a working relationship with McConnell and John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE.
 

“He should sit down with Leader McConnell and Leader Boehner and deal with them, he ought not to be going around talking to George Voinovich alone or the other senators, he should be talking to [the GOP leaders],” Voinovich said.
 
House Republican leaders welcomed Obama’s proposal to meet monthly.

“I am encouraged by that, that he wants to meet with us, because you know what, this year, there was a lot of discussion about bipartisanship but zero action on his part,” said House Republican Whip Eric CantorEric CantorEric Cantor offering advice to end ‘immigration wars’ Trump's olive branch differs from the golden eras of bipartisanship After divisive rally, Trump calls for unity MORE (Va.).

“I am certainly hopeful that we can try to now establish some type of rapport so we can work together on a reform agenda,” he added.

Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.), chairman of the House Republican Conference, said, “I think the president of the United States ought to sit down on a regular basis with leaders of both political parties.”

“This business of late, of slamming the door and locking Republicans in the House and Senate completely out of deliberations, this business of the last year of reflexively rejecting all of the Republican proposals on stimulus, on budget, on healthcare, on energy has got to stop,” Pence added.