It has been 62 days since Barack Obama moved into the Oval Office. A lot has happened in those two months, perhaps most notably a party-line fight and vote on the federal economic stimulus plan, despite the president’s calls for bi-partisan unity on the plan. So how good is the relationship between President Obama and Congress? It is a question WWAY asked the three members of Congress who represent us during a trip to the nation’s capital earlier this month. President Barack Obama chose eastern North Carolina last month to serve as the backdrop to announce his exit strategy for the US involvement in Iraq. And multiple visits during his campaign last year also show the importance of North Carolina on a national scale. "I think he has been many places. I’ve talked to him personally on the phone, and he is reaching out to both Democrats and Republicans," said Kay Hagan. The reach extended all the way to Capitol Hill, where, just a week after taking office, he president held meetings with congressional Republicans, hoping to get their support for the economic stimulus plan. In the end, only three Republicans voted for the package, but the vote may not fully explain how North Carolina Republican Richard Burr feels about his former Senate colleague. Burr said, “I’ve got high regards for President Obama. He’s a friend. Contrary to what you might hear on the national news, all of us hope that he’s successful. I might’ve voted against the stimulus. It doesn’t mean that I don’t hope it works." Burr even said his priorities match the White House’s goals of comprehensive healthcare and fixing education. On the House side, Congressman Mike McIntyre said he thinks it is important to have a good working relationship with the president. "Every chance I can get with the president, I want to take that chance to try to promote our area of southeastern North Carolina." Though the congressman and president are in the same party, McIntyre said when it comes down to it, the issues that matter most have little to do with party philosophy. "The very first conversation I ever had with Obama, even before he was elected president, I talked to him about our coastal areas and was explaining to him the importance of beach re-nourishment, because he was asking me about that money and about the sand and how that works. Why is that a good investment," said McIntyre. In the end, McIntyre, Burr and Hagan all agree about working with the 44th president. "I think it’s going to be an excellent relationship," said Hagan. Congressman McIntyre said serving in the House during the Clinton, Bush and now Obama administrations, he has always tried to work well with the president regardless of party.
Part One – WWAY Goes to Washington: Who represents us in Congress
Part Two – WWAY Goes to Washington: NC representatives discuss the stimulus plan
Part Three – WWAY Goes to Washington: NC representatives and their priorities
Part Four – WWAY Goes to Washington: The President and Congress