Chicago Dogs Served Up at White House Picnic

Members of Congress gather for a barbeque on the South Lawn

This wasn’t your typical summer barbecue.  Sure there was food and music, but the cuisine and the guest list were not like the picnics you're used to.

President Barack Obama hosted the 2nd annual White House Congressional picnic on the South Lawn on Tuesday.  Members of Congress lined up near a fire pit to eat Northwest-style salmon and salad, while others chomped down on Chicago-style hot dogs.

Obama told lawmakers he wanted to thank them for their “incredible devotion to the country, regardless of party.”  As part of the event, every member of Congress was invited, along with his or her families.

Obama said the nation has seen a tough few years and "that's meant that Congress has had to do more on a whole range of issues."  The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico means more pressure to work together and with the administration to deal with the crisis, he said.

Those attending the picnic included Sen. Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska).

Brown, while standing in line for a Northwestern specialty of salad and salmon, cooked and smoked in a pit yards away from him, said he came to be "part of the tradition."

"I'd like to meet the president if possible," Brown said in an interview, adding that he had only met Obama briefly at a luncheon so far.

Asked if he thought the annual picnic could help lawmakers resolve issues among themselves and with the White House, Brown
said: "This doesn't help or hurt. It's just another step in learning more about your colleagues and their families and their concerns."

Last year, the Obama White House turned its first congressional picnic into a Hawaiian luau, in celebration of the president's home state.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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