Republican Sens. John McCain, left, and Lindsey Graham will meet with President… (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated…)
WASHINGTON -- President Obama will meet Tuesday with two of the Republicans leading Senate efforts to craft comprehensive immigration legislation.
The invitation that will bring Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to the White House comes a week after the president reached out to Republicans in the "Gang of 8" -- four senators from each party who announced a shared set of principles for an immigration overhaul last month.
Two other Republicans who are part of the immigration talks, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, are not expected to attend.
McCain told reporters Monday that he welcomed the White House invitation. While on a trip to Mexico last week, he told reporters he hoped a more detailed immigration agreement could be produced by the end of March.
McCain faced tough questions about border security and other issues at Arizona town hall meetings during last week's congressional recess. But he said media coverage overemphasized the opposition.
"The one that was publicized, the guy that was yelling at me, the next guy that stood up said thank you for doing what you're doing," he said. "I've been having town hall meetings for 30 years. That's why we pack the house. … We don't screen our attendees."
Also Tuesday, Obama will visit a shipbuilding facility in Newport News, Va., where he'll discuss the looming cuts in defense and domestic spending that will take effect starting Friday unless Congress can find an alternative.
Graham said during an interview on CNN Monday that he hoped to discuss the so-called sequestration issue with Obama during their White House meeting.
Graham also has been among the most vocal critics of Obama's nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, to lead the Pentagon. A confirmation vote could come as soon as Tuesday.