Bipartisan Group to Meet at White House Friday

Posted January 22, 2009 at 1:49pm

President Barack Obama will meet Friday with a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers to discuss efforts to boost the economy, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said on Thursday.

Gibbs suggested the meeting was at least partially a result of a request by House Republicans for a sit-down. The new press secretary spoke during his first daily briefing Thursday.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) are expected to attend the White House meeting.

Obama has requested a new daily briefing on the economy to parallel the “president’s daily brief” he receives each day on national security threats, according to Gibbs.

The daily economic session will be led by National Economic Council Director Larry Summers. Among those attending Thursday’s meeting were Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes and vice presidential economic adviser Jared Bernstein.

It is unclear whether the Treasury secretary will also attend. Treasury nominee Timothy Geithner has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.

Gibbs on Thursday was quizzed about the re-swearing-in of Obama on Wednesday evening, saying White House Counsel Gregory Craig had moved for the procedure “out of an abundance of caution.” Nevertheless, White House lawyers believe the initial swearing-in was valid, and Obama did not re-sign executive orders he signed Wednesday.

Reporters objected to the coverage allowed of the ceremony, noting that the press was not permitted to photograph or film it, with photos supplied instead by the White House. Gibbs noted that a “pool” of reporters was present and that one wrote a pool report for other journalists.

Gibbs also announced today that Obama has a PDA that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends. Use of the device will be “limited” and “secure,” Gibbs said, and the number of people Obama will communicate with will be small.

“The presumption regarding those e-mails is that they are subject to the Presidential Records Act,” Gibbs said. But Gibbs also noted that there are exceptions in the act allowed for personal communications. Gibbs presented the decision in part as a way for Obama to not get “stuck in a bubble.”

Former President George W. Bush abandoned use of e-mail when he became president.