President Barack Obama says he's reaching out to lawmakers from both parties in hopes of untangling the gridlock that has stymied progress on budget issues in Washington.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says he's talking with Republicans about ways to replace the automatic spending cuts that took effect March 1. He says immigration reform and gun control are other areas where he's hopeful Democrats and Republicans can find common ground.

He referred to a dinner during the week with 12 U.S. Senator in which they had an "open and honest conversation about critical issues" facing the country including gun violence and the budget.

He says even though unemployment fell to 7.7 percent last month, expanding the economy is still his top priority.

In the Republican address, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama says he's worried that Senate Democrats will unveil a budget next week that won't curb the nation's debt. He's insisting that lawmakers balance the federal budget.

He proposed setting 3.4% as the rate of spending growth but was concerned Democrats would not abide by the limit and is worried the Democrat budget will echo the President's solutions to cutting the deficit.

"I fear it will crush American workers and our economy with trillions in new taxes, spending and debt," he added. "I fear Chairman (Patty) Murray will follow the president's lead: raising taxes to enrich the bureaucracy at the expense of the people."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.