President and Republicans Meet for Bipartisan Symbolism

"It was good to see the President," Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander told reporters after he and other Senate Republicans met with the President to discuss bipartisan efforts to move legislation forward this year. But Senator Alexander also said Republican leaders have fundamental differences of opinion with Mr. Obama on how to approach legislation.

President Obama called Republican leadership last week requesting the meeting on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. As he entered the Capitol, the President said "we want to see if we can get some more work done." With recent victories in health care and financial regulatory reform on his side, President Obama has a list of other items he wants to accomplish before mid-term elections in November. Republicans aren't interested in hearing from the President about working together when they believe their contributions to legislation aren't being addressed. "We saw an entirely partisan health care bill pass and a nearly partisan financial services regulatory reform bill pass," South Dakota Senator John Thune told reporters after the President departed the Capitol building. "What we haven't seen is the match up between the rhetoric and the actions to follow through."

In a readout on the meeting provided by the White House, the President spent just over an hour on Capitol Hill speaking solely to Republicans on a variety of issues including improving the economy and jobs, ratifying the START treaty with Russia on nuclear non-proliferation, as well as confirming his Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan whose hearing begins at the end of June. The President also urged Republicans to work with him on two other issues: comprehensive immigration reform and energy legislation.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said both the President and Republicans had a good exchange which was worthwhile but asked incredulously, "surely you didn't think we were going to walk out of there and have some specific agreement on one of these issues?" McConnell added "that was not anticipated by him or us."