WASHINGTON — Over a steak dinner, President Barack Obama dined with a dozen Republican senators, including Marco Rubio of Florida, at the White House on Wednesday evening.
The dinner was arranged in search of common ground on a range of issues, most notably the budget, entitlements and tax reform.
"Our dinner with President Obama tonight was very productive," Sen. Johnny Isakson, who compiled the invitations, said in a statement. "We discussed the debt, deficits and fiscal challenges facing our country. Sitting down to talk about how to get our arms around our debt is a good first step to what I hope will be an ongoing discussion and a path forward to solving our nation's problems."
The dinner came on the same day that Obama unveiled a $3.8 trillion budget proposal that has angered some Democrats with proposed cuts to Medicare and Social Security in an attempt to compromise with Republicans.
Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer, said most of the talk at the nearly three-hour dinner focused on the budget, although Rubio, a member of a bipartisan group considering fixes for the nation's immigration system, spoke about the overhaul effort.
A White House official characterized the discussion over a meal that also included salad, sautéed vegetables and coconut sorbet.
Isakson put together the GOP list for the dinner in the White House's Old Family Dining Room at Obama's request. Also attending were Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Arkansas' John Boozman, Maine's Susan Collins, Idaho's Mike Crapo, Wyoming's Michael Enzi, Utah's Orrin Hatch, Kansas' Pat Roberts, South Dakota's John Thune and Mississippi's Roger Wicker.