Job creation and government spending were on the menu Wednesday during President Obama's lunch with top House Republicans.

House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBoehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader Scaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' MORE (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorEmbattled Juul seeks allies in Washington GOP faces tough battle to become 'party of health care' 737 crisis tests Boeing's clout in Washington MORE (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) emerged from the sitdown to describe discussions toward common ground on the top economic issues facing Congress and the White House.

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"The main portion of the entire lunch was talking about the economy," McCarthy said at a stakeout following the lunch. "We looked to places that we could work together on, from jobs to cutting government spending."

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBoehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader Scaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' MORE repeatedly said Obama made clear that he was interested in finding areas of "common ground," and he listed education and trade as two areas where that could happen.

On trade, Boehner said, there is an appetite in the House for trade deals with Colombia and Panama, and he is hopeful Obama will send those deals to Capitol Hill — "the sooner the better."

The meeting, announced Tuesday, was seen as an entreaty by Obama toward the Republican House, and to help find a path forward on the budget and job creation in coming weeks and months.

Republicans, for instance, have chafed at Obama's proposal to freeze government spending. They have signaled that they intend to further slash spending, through a coming continuing resolution, their budget proposal and an impending vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Democrats, meanwhile, complain that the Republican House has done little to pursue job creation, with their focus so far on repealing Obama's healthcare reform law and refusing the president's suggested "investments" in new projects.


—Sam Youngman contributed.

This post was updated at 2:05 p.m.