Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Obama to lunch with Republican senators, dine with Democratic donors

Good morning. A busy President Obama will start his long day on Eastern time and end it on Pacific time. On tap: a Rose Garden ceremony to honor small businessowners, lunch with GOP senators, a meeting with Giorgio Napolitano, the president of Italy, and a fundraiser for California Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Late yesterday, the White House signed off on a deal to repeal -- albeit slowly -- the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military. That sets up votes later this week in the House and in the Senate Armed Services Committee that would permit gays to serve openly in the armed services once a review has been completed. Currently gays are permitted to serve only if they conceal their sexual preference. You can read the White House letter agreeing to the deal here.

This morning the president will celebrate National Small Business Week by hosting a White House reception for award-winning business owners. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says it's to recognize "the important role small business plays in our economy" -- and not a moment too soon, as USA TODAY's own Dennis Cauchon points out today in an eye-popping story about the decline in private sector wages.

The president then heads up to Capitol Hill, where he will join Republican senators for their weekly luncheon.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's spokesman, Don Stewart, says the president requested the invitation, which his boss was happy to issue. "The Republican Conference welcomes his visit ,where they will have a wide-ranging discussion on the year ahead," Stewart said.

Later in the afternoon, the president will be heading to California in an effort to prevent McConnell from having to lay an extra plate at his luncheons next year. Obama is working overtime to keep California's Senate seat Democratic, headlining his second fundraiser for Boxer in a little more than one month. Tonight's event is in San Francisco; in April Obama joined the senator at a Los Angeles fundraiser.

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