Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Jr. attends White House luncheon, too; President is "pleased"...
On the heels of Wednesday night's bipartisan outreach dinner with a dozen Republican Senators, President Obama today continued his Congressional wooing with a luncheon at the White House, added to his schedule and announced on Thursday morning. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WIS), the powerful Chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Ranking Member Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Jr. (D-MD), joined the President at 12:25 PM in the Oval Office Private Dining Room. The luncheon was closed to press. (Above, with Ryan, in a White House file photo)
The President was "pleased" with the lunch, said a White House official, and offered his guests Lentil Vegetable Soup and Broiled Sea Bass, served with a Roasted Vegetable Ragu.
"The President was pleased to host Chairman Ryan and Ranking Member Van Hollen for lunch today at the White House," said the White House official. "The President had a constructive discussion with the Chairman and Ranking Member on a host of issues, including tackling our deficit challenges and his proposal to replace the sequester and reduce the deficit in a balanced way."
"The President expressed his desire to continue a dialogue with them in the weeks ahead, and looks forward to continuing discussions with them and other members of the committee on these issues of importance to our economy and the middle class."
The House is often at odds with the President, and the President was often at odds with Ryan during the 2012 election race, when the hotshot Wisconsin lawmaker, the architect of the GOP's budget plan, was the vice presidential nominee. Ryan is expected to shortly offer a new budget plan for a vote in his committee.
Next week, the President visits Capitol Hill for more schmoozing along both sides of the aisle. Last night's two-hour dinner at the Jefferson Hotel was also closed to press; the President picked up the tab--with his own funds, said the White House--for Sens. John McCain (AZ); Tom Coburn (OK); Saxby Chambliss (GA); John Hoeven (ND); Bob Corker (TN); Mike Johanns (Neb); Lindsey
Graham (SC); Richard Burr (NC); Dan Coats (Ind); Ron Johnson (WI); Pat Toomey (PA) and Kelly
Ayotte (NH), the lone woman in the bunch.
"The President greatly enjoyed the dinner and had a good exchange of ideas with the Senators," said a senior White House official, but other than that, offered few details. UPDATE: More comments on the dinner from the White House.
*Photo by Pete Souza/White House; the President spoke Ryan at a health insurance reform meeting at Blair House on Feb. 25, 2010
*UPdated 4:30 PM