A handful of Republicans senators dined with Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday evening as President Obama dropped in to presumably talk Syria.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) dined on “family-style” Italian food at the Naval Observatory, according to the White House. Previous reports indicated that more senators had been on the invitation list, including Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and John Thune (R-S.D.).
Corker is ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee and Chambliss is vice chairman of the Senate Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Thune, as conference chairman, is the No. 3 ranking Republican in the Senate and Blunt is vice-chairman, showing a White House desire to touch bases with the upper chamber’s GOP leadership on Syria.
Of those in attendance, Graham, Ayotte, Chambliss and Corker back intervention in Syria. Collins and Fischer have expressed wariness of U.S. involvement and have publicly said Obama needs to make his case.
None of the senators tweeted about the secretive meal.
“This evening, the president dropped by the dinner that the vice president hosted for Republican senators,” the White House said Sunday evening. He arrived at 7:10 p.m. and stayed until 8:30 p.m.
Administration officials wouldn’t confirm their topic of discussion.
Congress is back from recess Monday, but neither the House nor Senate has debate over Obama’s request for authorization of military force on its calendar. The Senate has the amended legislation passed last week by the Foreign Relations Committee, but Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) just has district judges on the floor schedule.
Obama’s schedule includes a closed-door meeting with Biden and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in the Oval Office. Biden also has an event at the Port of Baltimore to talk about infrastructure investments.
On Tuesday, Obama plans to address the nation on Syria. Before that, National Security Adviser Susan Rice will make the administration’s case in a Monday address at the New America Foundation in Washington.