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House OKs bill to avoid shutdown; Obama dines with GOP senators

FILE - In this March 4 2013 file phoPresident Barack Obamspeaks East Room White House Washington. Enveloped by political gridlock

FILE - In this March 4, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Enveloped by political gridlock, President Barack Obama is reaching out to rank-and-file Republicans, hosting GOP senators for dinner at the White House Wednesday night and then visiting Capitol Hill next week for separate meetings with Senate and House Republicans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

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Updated: March 7, 2013 2:44AM

After House Republicans voted to stave off a late March government shutdown, President Barack Obama had dinner with a dozen Republican senators Wednesday night at a hotel near the White House. While no real breakthroughs appeared to emerge from the two-hour meal, the mere fact that it happened was significant given the lack of direct engagement between Obama and rank-and-file Republicans over the past two years.

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