The meeting has begun, between Republicans Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, Democrats Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, and the senior White House staff, including President Obama.
This is the first of what Obama has promised to be monthly gatherings between Republicans and Democrats, and basically nobody has much hope that they will amount to much. (To get a sense of just how far apart these two sides are, consider that last week Boehner called on Obama to repeal unspent stimulus spending just as Democrats announced yet another stimulus effort, called a “Jobs Agenda.”)
But at least everyone is at the same table. Christy Parsons, of the Los Angeles Times, files this pool report from inside the room:
10:20 a.m., Cabinet Room
The president sat at the long conference table with House leaders (Pelosi, Boehner, Hoyer) to his right and Senate leaders (Reid and McConnell) to his left, advisors seated behind him (Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs, Melody Barnes and Carol Browner among them) and economic advisors (only Romer and Orszag were visible to the pool) seated across the table.
He promised to “move forward in a more bipartisan fashion” in general, because it’s “fair to say the American people are frustrated’ with the lack of progress on a number of fronts. “A good place to start,” he said, is talking about a jobs package, adding that he hopes the House and Senate can get something moving in the next few weeks. He also said he hopes to get bipartisan agreement on “the issue of getting the deficit and debt under control.” Also said, “I’m going to spend some time listening.”
Pool ushered out, meeting began about 10:25 a.m.
Also I should add, the table in the Cabinet Room is more of a long oval than a rectangle. Either way–not round.