Obama's outreach comes as Senate Democrats appeared to move toward easing passage for a spending measure to pay for day-to-day federal operations through September. Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said there's a "delicate balance" between supporting Obama administration priorities and going too far as to "sink the bill."
Mikulski said the Senate would give agencies including the Agriculture, Homeland Security and Justice departments their detailed, line-by-line budgets as part of legislation advancing next week to head off a government shutdown at the end of March. Other agencies would run on autopilot essentially at last year's funding levels. The automatic cuts — 5 percent to domestic agencies and 7.8 percent to the Pentagon — would apply whether or not an agency received its detailed budget.
The House passed its version of the legislation Wednesday.
Obama plans to address Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate separately next week, the next step in his approach to spell out his agenda to lawmakers.
White House aides say the effort to reach out to rank-and-file members is designed to let the president explain his policies without the filter of party leaders, with whom he has dealt with in the past.
Along with Corker, the lawmakers in attendance at Wednesday's dinner were Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Dan Coats of Indiana, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Mike Johanns of Nebraska.
Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.
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