Obama chief of staff visits Congressional friends
As the Democratic-controlled House Budget Committee considered dozens of Republican amendments on the 2010 budget Wednesday night, an old friend of many lawmakers — and an enemy to a few — dropped by to say hello, catching many by surprise.
President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, the former Chicago congressman known for his brusque style, walked into the committee room nine hours after it started and took a seat on the edge of the dais to chat with fellow Democrats as they worked on Obama’s $3.55 trillion budget proposal.
Republicans and even some Democrats have expressed concerns about the deficits the proposed budget could produce. Obama earlier on Wednesday met with Senate Democrats to try to convince wavering lawmakers to support his budget priorities.
As the House committee work continued, several Democrats jumped up from their seats to chat with Emanuel, including Texas Representative Chet Edwards and Connecticut Representative Rosa DeLauro. The Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt ambled over to greet him before they went behind closed doors for talks.
“I came up to see my old friends,” Emanuel told reporters after his 45-minute visit. He declined to answer most questions, including reports that he sent cake to members and staff expected to work late into the night finalizing the chamber’s budget plan.
Republicans have excoriated Obama’s budget plan and congressional Democrats for ramping up spending and allowing certain tax cuts to expire.
Asked if he missed life on Capitol Hill, Emanuel replied, “No, I just wanted to thank everybody for their hard work on behalf of the president and economic staff.”
– Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Emanuel on Capitol Hill last month)