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Obama, Biden welcome Irish leader for St. Patrick's Day

During President Obama's tenure, St. Patrick's day has customarily brought two things to Washington: a visit from the Irish prime minister and a joke or two from the country's most notable Irish-American, Vice President Joe Biden.

On those counts, at least, St. Patrick's Day 2015 is off to a successful start.

Enda Kenny, the prime minister (or Taoiseach) of Ireland, began his day by sharing breakfast with Biden at the vice president's residence at the Naval Observatory. Biden welcomed Kenny and his wife, Fionnuala O'Kelly, and before they entered the residence, they turned around for a photo-op, and Biden joked, as they posed, "Anyone wearing orange is not welcome in," he said, drawing a few laughs. After a moment, he added, "Only joking."

The remark was an allusion to the conflict between Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics that has continued, off and on, for centuries. The color orange symbolizes Protestants, while Catholics are represented by green.

In his remarks at the breakfast, Biden emphasized the need for an agreement between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland to be "locked down" so both parties can "finally, finally, finally again bring an end to a dark chapter."

Later on Tuesday, at the White House, where the fountain on the South Lawn was dyed green in honor of St. Patrick's Day, Kenny and Mr. Obama met in the Oval Office.

The president said the two men discussed the pending Transatlantic Trade agreement and the prospects for immigration reform. Kenny commended the president's recent move, currently tied up in the courts, to shelter millions of immigrants from the threat of deportation.

Mr. Obama also took the opportunity to criticize House Republicans' recently unveiled budget proposal.

"I was hoping for a little luck of the Irish as the Republicans put forward their budget today," the president said. "Unfortunately what we're seeing right now is a failure to invest in education and infrastructure and research and...national defense, all the things that we need to grow to create jobs, to stay at the forefront of innovation, and to keep our country safe. It's not a budget that reflects the future. It's not a budget that reflects growth."

"I'll keep my four-leaf clover in my pocket and see if [House Speaker John Boehner] and [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and others are interested in having that conversation," he added.