WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says he had a "great conversation" Thursdaywith Senate Republicans.
It was his third stop on this week's outreach effort on Capitol Hill, where he's been talking with lawmakers from both parties about the budget and other issues. Senators said the 90-minute meeting featured exchanges on the budget, the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, tax reform and the regulatory burden on businesses.
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell says Obama was "very candid." He says Obama "certainly understands that you can't fix the country without adjusting entitlements." It's a reference to benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare that are part of the debate over deficit reduction.
McConnell says, "We'll see where we go from here, but it was a great meeting."
Obama then walked across the Capitol to meet with his House Democratic allies. The meeting caps visits this week to the Democratic and GOP conferences of both the House and Senate.
Lew hopeful on reaching a budget breakthrough
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says he is optimistic that President Barack Obama will be able to reach an agreement with Republicans in Congress to break a budget impasse that has triggered across-the-board government spending cuts.
Lew says Obama has been "deeply engaged over the past week in trying to open the door for conversations" with lawmakers in the search for a "sensible center."
He says he thinks there is a "broad understanding of what an ultimate solution probably looks like, but we need to figure out the path to get from here to there."