Toomey on Dinner With Obama: ‘It Was a Constructive Exchange’

'Not nearly as specific as we're going to have to get to reach some kind of an agreement'


Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Penn.) called a dinner he and Republican Senators had Wednesday night with President Obama at The Jefferson a “constructive exchange” toward finding a solution on deficit reduction.

“It was very candid, it was cordial, but it was also substantive,” Toomey said on Fox News Thursday morning. “Everybody had a chance to make points they wanted to make. There was back and forth. There was substantive discussion about actual fiscal policy, priorities and alternatives and ideas. So the idea wasn’t that we were going to negotiate a deal last night. That was never part of the plan. That isn’t going to happen over one dinner, but I think it was a constructive exchange.”

Toomey was joined by 11 other Republicans, including John McCain (R., Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.). While Toomey said they discussed “specifics,” the dinner was more of a jumping-off point than anything else.

“There were some specifics. Not nearly as specific as we’re going to have to get if we’re going to reach some kind of an agreement,” he said. “But again, the purpose of this first dinner wasn’t to lay out negotiating positions and start to do that haggling. It was more to sort of understand where we’re coming from, what are the priorities on each side.”

Toomey added he was proud of Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), who filibustered for nearly 13 hours Wednesday against John Brennan’s nomination as CIA Director and to garner more information on the government’s drone policy, saying Paul forced the Senate to focus on a “very important question.”