Obama Hosts Senate Dems as Rift Grows Between Them

Wednesday, 25 Jun 2014 08:42 AM

By Elliot Jager

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President Barack Obama is scheduled to host Democratic U.S. senators Wednesday afternoon at the White House, The Hill reported.

The event at 5 p.m. eastern time will be an opportunity for the president to mend fences with members of his own party after months fraught with tensions. Vice President Joe Biden and senior staffers are expected to attend.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was critical of Obama's decision not to inform her panel prior to exchanging Taliban leaders for captive soldier Bowe Berghdal. "It's very disappointing that there was not a level of trust sufficient to justify alerting us," Feinstein had said, according to the Hill.

She is also unhappy with Obama's new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. She said he is doing "a terrible job" and was "arrogant."

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill has been critical of the administration's handling of the missing emails from former IRS manager Lois Lerner's computer. "It looks terrible," McCaskill said on MSNBC.

In recent months, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has broken with the president on fast-tracking a trade deal. New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich has been displeased with White House National Security Agency policy and Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu has said the White House doesn't do a good job of communicating with Senate Democrats, according to Politico.

With the situation in Iraq sputtering out of control, foreign policy is likely to come up, according to the Hill.

Politics will also be on the radar. Senators up for re-election are worried about their individual prospects and the ability of the party to retain control of the Senate. Polls suggest Republicans could capture the upper chamber in November, the Hill reported.

Obama last hosted Democratic senators at the White House six months ago. He also huddled with them in February at a retreat in Virginia, CBS News reported.

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