There’s nothing like a pumpkin tart to cut the tension, right?
Congressional leaders, President Obama, and Vice President Biden sat down to talk business over lunch, just days after the Democrats suffered a severe shellacking in the midterm elections. According to the White House, they finished off their lunch with a seasonally-appropriate pumpkin tart, vanilla whipped cream and candied ginger.
“I am not going to judge ideas based on whether they’re Democratic or Republican; I’m going to be judging them based whether or not they work,” the president promised ahead of lunch, adding that he aims to discuss finding common ground on issues like economic growth, infrastructure investment, and deficit reduction – all things the GOP has expressed interest in.
Obama also promised to update them on issues like Ebola and the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The event appeared to be a step towards the kind of Congress-White House rapport critics say the president should have been cultivating all along. That criticism was redoubled when he said that on Wednesday he didn’t know what soon-to-be Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s drink of choice was. (McConnell prefers a Manhattan, on the rocks, with two cherries.) But sitting with Republican House Speaker John Boehner Democrat Sen. Harry Reid, the soon-to-be demoted Majority Leader, and McConnell, it almost looked like a new ball game.
“What we’ve seen now for a number of cycles is that the American people just want to see work done here in Washington,” the president said. “And I think all of us have the responsibility, me in particular, to try to make that happen.”
The president’s lunch guests included the vice president, Sens. Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, John Thune and Jon Barrasso, and Reps. John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy and Cathy McMorris Rodgers on the GOP side, as well as Senate Democrats Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and Patty Murray, and House Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, James Clyburn and Xavier Becerra.
Walking out of the Capitol to lunch, House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy said his no. 1 message to the president was jobs. “We have 387 bills that have sat in that Senate. We should start moving them right away to create more jobs in America.”
The Washington Post Fact Checker took a look at this common GOP refrain on Friday: indeed, there are just under 350 bills bottled up in the Senate now, but that’s nothing new. In fact, when Democrats controlled both chambers there were 700 bills idling in the Senate. In 11 of the past 19 Congresses, more than 300 bills were bottled up in the Senate when Congress adjourned.
Also on the menu? A bibb lettuce salad with frisee, endive, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers and toasted shallot dressing and an herb-crusted sea bass, tomato-lemon confit grilled vegetables.