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Blue Dogs See Ally in Obama

Fiscally conservative Democrats emerged from a Tuesday meeting with President Barack Obama reassured that he is committed to the same level of fiscal responsibility as they are.

Nearly all 49 members of the Blue Dog Coalition met with Obama for an hour to discuss budget discipline at a time when Congress is about to pass a roughly $800 billion economic stimulus bill.

“We were pleased to find a partner with President Obama,” said Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.), a Blue Dog co-chairwoman.

Baron Hill (D-Ind.), another Blue Dog co-chairman, said it was important to fiscally conservative Democrats that Obama knows that “for temporary reasons, of course, we had suspended our strong feelings about budget deficits. We understand he has to do what he has to do.”

That said, Blue Dogs told the president that after the stimulus bill passes, “we’re starting down a new path, that it should be a path of fiscal responsibility,” Hill said. Statutory pay-as-you-go budget rules, for example, are something that “Blue Dogs still feel very strongly about.”

Hill said Obama understands that some Members of Congress “are not very excited about statutory PAYGO and that there’s some political work to be done to make sure it’s going to happen. … I think he believes that it’s going to take a little bit of time.”

Other items discussed were a fiscal reform summit, entitlement reform and a Blue Dog resolution to require every committee to hold at least three hearings on waste, fraud and abuse.

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