By Alexander Bolton - 04/18/13 02:54 AM EDT
Senate Democrats discussed a proposal to use a new formula to calculate Social Security benefits at a two-hour dinner with President Obama at the Jefferson Hotel Wednesday evening.
A White House pool report, quoting an administration official, said topics included the terrorist attack in Boston, immigration reform, the economy and gun control.
The dinner came hours after the Senate dealt a stinging blow to the president's agenda by rejecting a White House-backed plan on background checks for gun sales.
Obama invited a dozen Democratic senators to join him for an informal dinner after holding two similar meetings with separate groups of Republican senators.
The lawmaker said Obama discussed his controversial proposal to use the chained consumer price index to calculate cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security benefits, but said the issue did not dominate the conversation.
Labor unions and liberal Democrats have strongly criticized the president’s concession on a social safety net program dear to their constituents. The White House has argued the proposal was important to show that the president is committed to finding bipartisan deficit-reduction deal and has challenged Republicans to compromise.
“Tonight’s dinner was a very productive continuation of the conversations many of us have been having with President Obama about creating jobs, tackling our deficit and debt in a balanced and bipartisan way, and other critical issues,” Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurrayElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Congress approves .1B in Zika funds Lawmakers pledge push for cures bill in lame-duck MORE (D-Wash.) said in a statement.
Obama asked Murray, the Senate Budget Committee chairwoman, to assemble the guest list.
Murray said the president and Democratic senators are united in their desire to solve the bitter, protracted budget debates in Congress and stop Washington from “lurching from crisis to crisis.”
“We also share the hope that some Republicans will finally step out of their partisan corner and join us at the table willing to offer some compromises that will help move our country and our economy forward,” she said.
Sens. Dick DurbinDick DurbinRetailers have jumped the shark Dems gain upper hand on budget McConnell: Senate could drop flood money from spending bill MORE (Ill.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Senators already eyeing changes to 9/11 bill after veto override WH tried to stop Intel Dems' statement on Russian hacking: report MORE (Calif.), Ron WydenRon WydenOvernight Healthcare: Watchdog says ObamaCare program made illegal payments Election-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Overnight Tech: TV box plan faces crucial vote | Trump transition team to meet tech groups | Growing scrutiny of Yahoo security MORE (Ore.), Jack ReedJack ReedDemocrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal Senators already eyeing changes to 9/11 bill after veto override Overnight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas MORE (R.I.), Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuLouisiana needs Caroline Fayard as its new senator La. Senate contender books seven-figure ad buy Crowded field muddies polling in Louisiana Senate race MORE (La.), Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowMichigan Dems highlight Flint with unanimous opposition to CR How Congress averted shutdown Senate passes funding bill to avoid shutdown MORE (Mich.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseAnti-trade senators say chamber would be crazy to pass TPP Overnight Energy: SEC begins probing Exxon Senate Dems unveil new public option push for ObamaCare MORE (R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenSenators press State Department on 'plan B' in Syria Senate passes bill to preserve sexual assault kits Dems call for better birth control access for female troops MORE (N.H.), Mark WarnerMark WarnerDemocrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal Democratic tax bill targets foreign reinsurance transactions Leahy wants Judiciary hearing on Yahoo MORE (Va.), Michael BennetMichael BennetEconomists have a message: Clinton's policies are wrong for America Senate rivals gear up for debates Grassley pulling away from Dem challenger MORE (Colo.) and Chris CoonsChris CoonsElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Overnight Healthcare: McConnell unveils new Zika package | Manchin defends daughter on EpiPens | Bill includes M for opioid crisis Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare MORE (Del.) also attended.
Senators ordered from the menu, which offers pavé of halibut with green and white asparagus and diver sea scallops in a hazelnut emulsion.
Reed said the dinner was “good.” Stabenow went a step further and called it “great.”
Obama’s motorcade headed to the Jefferson shortly before 7 p.m. and returned to the White House at about 9:15 p.m.
The president ate with a dozen Republicans at the same hotel, located a short distance up 16th Street from the White House, on March 6.
—This article was updated at 11:55 p.m.