Senate Republican Conference Chairman Sen. John Thune will be looking to see if compromise is on the menu when he goes to the White House for lunch on Friday with President Barack Obama and key congressional Republicans and Democrats.
Obama is hosting the lunch to discuss upcoming legislation with lawmakers following the defeat of numerous Democrat candidates and the new Republican Senate majority
after Tuesday's midterm elections. Thune said he hoped Obama heard the message voters were trying to send that they wanted the country "to move in a different direction," and that the president would pledge to work with Congress.
"I think that what we're hoping to hear from him is a willingness to work in a constructive way, to dialogue with the Congress. Not to go around the Congress, which is what he's been doing now for the past several years," the South Dakota Republican told "Fox & Friends" on Friday.
While he was "trying to be hopeful about this meeting," Thune said he thought the lunch was about "optics," allowing Obama to "have a photo op with the new Congress, and, I think, demonstrate that he's still relevant in all of this debate."
Thune explained it was not just that Obama's policies weren't popular with the American people, but said "they don't work," adding he hoped Obama would "meet us halfway and start moving in a different direction."
It was important for Congress to address jobs and the economy, Thune said, adding lawmakers could do that by approving the Keystone XL pipeline, opening up trade, and making changes to Obamacare that were "really putting a wet blanket on the economy."
Thune said it would be a "huge mistake" and "like throwing a big hand grenade" if Obama moved on his pledge to make changes to the immigration system through executive action. He suggested Congress work on issues that already enjoyed bipartisan support, such as securing the border, implementing the government's E-Verify system on employment eligibility, and developing a skills-based immigration policy.
"Those are all things that have, I think, broad bipartisan support. So, that's what we ought to be focused on. Let's deal with those issues," he said.
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