WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn, one of several Republican senators invited to have dinner with President Barack Obama on Wednesday, said the president was trying to divert attention from across-the-board spending cuts “because he totally overplayed his hand.”
Coburn, R-Muskogee, said Obama was still hoping to reach a “grand bargain” with lawmakers on deficit reduction, “but he still wants to keep his boot on the neck of Republicans.”
In an interview before the scheduled dinner, Coburn also said he would not agree to legislation mandating universal background checks for gun purchases because he didn't want any records kept of the checks.
Coburn has been negotiating with a small bipartisan group of senators on a bill calling for background checks to be extended to gun show purchases. But Coburn said he insisted that there be no requirement that records be kept of background checks and that led to a standoff with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled Thursday to take up Schumer's bill, which would expand the requirements for background checks. No bill requiring records would pass the House and probably wouldn't pass the Senate, Coburn said.
It was not clear Wednesday evening how many Republican senators would attend the dinner at a Washington hotel with the president. According to media reports, Sens. John McCain, of Arizona; Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina; Bob Corker, of Tennessee; and about four others were expected to attend.
The president is also scheduled to attend a Capitol Hill meeting next week with Republican senators.
Coburn sends letters
Coburn has written letters almost daily to the White House budget office or federal agencies noting that, despite the dire warnings about the impacts of the cuts that went into effect last week, spending on conferences and other low-priority activities was still occurring.