House Republicans peppered President Obama with pointed questions on the budget, White House tours and the Keystone oil pipeline during an hour-long meeting Wednesday that yielded no major breakthroughs between the two divided parties.
While the exchanges during Obama’s first meeting in nearly two years with his chief opponents on Capitol Hill were polite, they only underscored the wide ideological gulf between the reelected Democratic president and the Republican House majority.
“It didn’t change anything at all. He didn’t offer anything new,” said Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa), a close ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Obama spent a majority of the meeting taking questions from members hand-picked by the Republican leadership. The topics ranged from the nation’s fiscal impasse to immigration, guns, cybersecurity, Israel, the Keystone pipeline and the cancellation of White House tours due to sequestration spending cuts.
The president told lawmakers he believed they had “about a nine-month window” to act on major budget priorities like overhauling the tax code, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said. On immigration, Obama spoke in frank political terms and sought to dispel Republican suspicions that he would rather see comprehensive legislation fail so he can use the issue as a hammer on the GOP in 2014.