By Alexander Bolton - 06/30/11 05:27 PM EDT
Senate Democratic leaders have asked President Obama to come to Capitol Hill Wednesday to meet with their caucus to discuss proposals for cutting the federal deficit.
Vice President Biden (D) is also invited.
Democrats expect Obama will accept this invitation after he rejected an impromptu proposal to meet with Senate Republicans Thursday.
The meetings will round out a busy week that will begin Tuesday, when Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) will introduce his long-awaited budget plan. Conrad says his budget will cut more than $4 trillion from the federal deficit.
“We need to hold a series of meetings and we’re going to do it,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters Thursday. “We’re going to focus on the economy.”
The Senate was originally scheduled to take the week off for the annual July 4 recess.
Lawmakers changed their mind, however, after Obama challenged Congress on Wednesday to cancel all recesses until it reaches an agreement to raise the national debt limit by Aug. 2.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Thursday morning invited Obama to meet with the Senate Republican Caucus that afternoon, which the White House declined.
Republicans criticized Obama for rejecting the invitation so he could attend political events for the Democratic National Committee in Philadelphia.
“I wonder if he’s going to cancel his fundraiser in Philadelphia tonight to meet with Senator McConnell and Speaker [John] Boehner [R-Ohio],” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said on the Senate floor.
Cornyn blasted Obama’s Wednesday news conference as “galling.” The president scolded Congress for not getting its work done on time, contrasting lawmakers to his own daughters, Sasha and Malia, who he said usually get their homework done a day ahead of time.
Cornyn called it an “outrageous speech” that engaged in “blatant electioneering”.
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) defended Obama’s remarks as necessary given the looming prospect of a national default if Congress fails to raise the debt limit.
“When the president expresses a sense of urgency, as he did yesterday, that we roll up our sleeves and get to work and get this done — not at the last minute but as soon as possible — I think he’s delivering a message everyone ought to hear,” Durbin said.