In preparation for the opposition he will face from the new Republican majority in Congress, President Barack Obama has begun reaching out to Democratic lawmakers, marking a shift in his relationship with them to date, The Washington Post
"In the past couple of months, I've seen heightened outreach," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer told the Post. "To some degree, we become even more relevant than we were before. Now he needs to rely on both houses to sustain a veto."
Since the midterm elections, Obama has made frequent calls to Democratic leaders in an attempt to strengthen relations. It comes against the backdrop that some in the party have felt overlooked by the White House during his presidency, while others blame the president for the party's midterm losses.
Obama's staff has also stepped up communications, with legislative affairs staff making contact with top lawmakers on issues ranging from the Keystone XL pipeline to immigration policy and tax policy, the Post reported.
Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, has paid a visit to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Pennsylvania Sen. Robert Casey told the Post that there have been "substantial improvements" in the president's legislative outreach.
"Just speaking as a Democratic senator, that was not a problem-free area," Casey told the Post, adding that his advice for the White House a few months ago was that, "They needed to have more 'What do you think?' meetings instead of 'Here's what we're doing' meetings."
The White House has also increased its use of perks for members of Congress in the past year, according to the Post, including trips on Air Force One and public acknowledgment of lawmakers who attend his speeches.
"This year his staff issued more than 4,270 invitations to come to the White House, travel with the president or attend his events, almost double the number handed out in 2012, and it is letting lawmakers use the President's Box at the Kennedy Center more often," the Post said.
Republicans have also been offered opportunities but take them up less frequently.
However, 30 freshmen lawmakers, most of whom are Republican, were taken on a tour of the East Wing last month, ending with a tour of the Oval Office conducted by McDonough.
Meanwhile, the president has also been seeking to strengthen ties with congressional Republicans. On Wednesday, he hosted incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Oval Office, the first time the two met one-on-one for a significant amount of time in four years, the Post reported.
And other outreach to Republicans has come from Cabinet members and senior administration officials.
For example, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell hosted a breakfast in November which included GOP committee members that oversee her agency. And Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy reached out to Oklahoma GOP Sen. James Inhofe, who will chair the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the new session.
Despite the efforts, however, there are those who are skeptical that it marks a new chapter of the relationship with the White House.
"I don't think [congressional relations] are going to improve," Virginia Democratic Rep. James Moran told the Post.
"He hasn't been willing or able to do things with members that they could take credit for with their constituents, and part of that is because of his opposition to earmarks," Moran said.
Nevertheless, some Republicans are optimistic that the party will be able to forge deals with the president on issues ranging from infrastructure spending to tax reform.
"He's showing all the things he can do without Congress, and that's not encouraging. But he's got a Congress that's committed to working on serious issues," said Tennessee GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander. "If he wants to come along and lead the band, he's welcome to do it."
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