Obama Huddles with House Republicans

by Katrina Trinko

President Obama’s meeting with House Republicans today didn’t change the tense dynamic between the House and the administration.

Representative Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said that while Obama’s meeting has been called a “charm offensive,” what was needed from him was a “substance offensive.”

“We need to reach areas of substantive agreement,” Cotton said. “It’s not a matter of personalities or political gamesmanship. I don’t want the president to fail. I just want him to change when it comes to policy.”

Cotton, who took pages of handwritten notes during the meeting, was optimistic that Obama might be on the cusp of supporting the Keystone pipeline.

“He indicated that there would be a decision promptly,” Cotton said of Obama’s remarks. “Hopefully, after his own state department has said that the environmental impact would be minimal and that it would create tens of thousands of jobs, the decision will be favorable, and we can actually develop the pipeline.”

Asked about the cancellation of the White House tours after the sequestration, Obama “blamed the Secret Service,” according to Representative Raul Labrador (R., Idaho).

“He said we did this because it was the Secret Service’s idea,” Labrador remarked. “Once again, he refuses to take responsibility for things that happen in his own administration.”

The overall tone of the meeting seems to have been cordial. Asked if Obama lectured the group, Representative Steve King (R., Iowa.) hesitated for a moment. “Maybe a little bit,” he said at last.

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