President Barack Obama has invited the bipartisan congressional leadership and key committee leaders to dinner Monday at the White House, an overture in the midst of partisan clashes over spending and health care.
The invitation is to leaders of the House and Senate and to committee chairmen and ranking members _ a big contingent of lawmakers and their spouses and a signal that the dinner is not devoted to an exclusive topic.
The White House says the dinner, hosted by the president and first lady Michelle Obama, will also include Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, as well as members of the Cabinet and senior White House aides.
The White House and congressional Republicans, who control the House, are squabbling over whether to link tough spending reduction measures to an increase in the nation's debt limit _ a crucial step needed to avoid defaulting on the government's debts.
The Obamas hosted a similar dinner at the start of the last session of Congress.