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After hosting Republicans twice, Obama to dine with Democratic senators

U.S. President Barack Obama (C), flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (L) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), delivers his State of the Un
U.S. President Barack Obama (C), flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (L) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), delivers his State of the Un

By Roberta Rampton and David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will continue a charm offensive with lawmakers this week, planning dinner on Wednesday with a dozen Democratic senators at a hotel near the White House, the White House said.

Discussion will focus on the budget process and job creation, and proposals to overhaul immigration laws and new gun legislation, said a Democratic aide familiar with the dinner.

Obama has dined twice recently with small groups of Republican senators to try to build what he calls a "caucus of common sense" on fiscal issues, immigration reforms and gun control measures.

On Wednesday, he will dine with Democrats at the Jefferson Hotel, where he had dinner with a group of Republicans on March 6, a conversation that was focused on debt and deficit issues. Obama hosted a second group of Republicans for dinner at the White House last week after he released his budget plan.

This week's guest list includes Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who has not said whether she will support a proposal to expand background checks for gun sales, a key part of Obama's proposals in the wake of a mass shooting in December at a Connecticut elementary school.

Dianne Feinstein of California, who proposed a ban on rapid-firing "assault" weapons like the one used in the massacre - a measure that appears set to fail in Congress - has also been invited.

Patty Murray of Washington, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, helped organize the guest list.

Also included are Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, and Michael Bennet of Colorado, both members of a bipartisan group of eight senators who have crafted an immigration bill.

Also included will be Chris Coons of Delaware, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Mark Warner of Virginia, and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and David Lawder; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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