Why Obama is taking four Kansas City letter writers to dinner

President Obama will dine Tuesday with four people who wrote letters to him: A man who thanked Obama for a student loan, a single mother, a teacher in a GED program, and a woman who is active in her neighborhood association.

President Barack Obama is taking four Kansas City residents out to dinner to chew over the concerns of heartland Americans, with little time remaining for action on pressing issues before Congress begins its August recess.

Obama's Tuesday night gathering comes roughly 48 hours before Congress is set to go on a five-week break and is the latest in a series of trips the president has taken to meet Americans who have written him about their struggles and worries. Obama has been using their stories to criticize congressional Republicans in this midterm election campaign for failing to act on his legislative agenda.

Before Congress leaves town, the White House is pressing lawmakers to approve an overhaul of the Veterans Affairs health care system and funding to deal with an influx of children streaming in across the southern border.

As The Christian Science Monitor reported, there are expectations that the House of Representatives may pass legislation this week to deal with the child immigration crisis.

On Sunday, Texas Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar and Texas Sen. John Cornyn were both on ABC's "This Week," pitching their solution to the child migrant crisis.

Senator Cronyn said he expects the House of Representatives to offer a "skinnied-down" emergency funding bill in response to President Obama's $3.7 billion request to tackle the US-Mexico border crisis.  The House bill is expected to be less than $1 billion.

"Fortunately, it sounds like the House of Representatives is going to move a piece of legislation this week, which would actually offer a solution. And it will include something along the lines Henry and I have proposed," said Cornyn.

Leading Republicans, meanwhile, have criticized Obama for spending his time raising campaign cash instead of negotiating on complex problems.

"The president just wants to sit back and play politics," incoming House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana said on "Fox News Sunday." ''He's flying around the country doing fundraisers. He doesn't have time to sit down and work with Congress."

Unlike other travel across the country in recent weeks, Obama doesn't plan any political fundraisers while overnighting in Kansas City, Missouri, for the dinner and a speech on the economy Wednesday. Obama's chief spokesman, Josh Earnest, is a native of the city, and called four Obama letter writers from his hometown Monday to invite them to dine with the president.

The White House promoted an online video of Earnest surprising the letter writers with the invitation with his Kansas City Royals banner prominent in the background of his West Wing office.

The White House said the Kansas City letter writers included a man who thanked Obama for student loan help he received, a single mother who described her challenges raising children and running a business, a teacher in a GED program and a woman who is active in her neighborhood association.

Before his evening flight, Obama planned to meet privately with wounded service members at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.


Follow Nedra Pickler at

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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