to meet with Republicans Ryan, McConnell next week: White House
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[January 30, 2016]
By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack
Obama will meet for the first time on Tuesday with Speaker Paul Ryan,
the top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, to discuss
budget priorities and ways to work together this year, the White House
said on Friday.
The get-together with Ryan, which also will include Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will provide a gauge of how much or
how little legislative common ground the three leaders share as
Obama completes his final year in office.
"We certainly believe that there are areas of cooperation for the
year ahead," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
It will be Obama's first formal face-to-face meeting with Ryan since
he was elected speaker three months ago.
"While the House is focused on a bold agenda for 2017, the speaker
appreciates the opportunity to see if we can find any areas of
common ground in the year ahead," Doug Andres, a spokesman for Ryan,
During a closed-door meeting on Thursday with Democratic lawmakers,
Obama said he does not expect Congress to get much done this year,
according to an aide who was in the room.
The White House has said there are only a few items on Obama's
legislative wish-list that have any chance of passing through the
Republican-controlled Congress. They include reforming mandatory
minimum prison sentences for non-violent drug offenses and taking
steps to address an epidemic of heroin addiction and prescription
Obama also wants Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership
trade deal, but he faces resistance from Democratic lawmakers
concerned about the TPP's impact on jobs and the environment.
White House announced on Friday that Obama's top legislative aide
Katie Beirne Fallon, who was popular among Republicans and Democrats
alike on Capitol Hill, is leaving after helping Obama secure enough
votes for fast-track trade negotiating authority, the Iran nuclear
deal and a budget deal.
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Fallon will be replaced by her deputy Amy Rosenbaum, a former aide
to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Obama's meeting with Republicans comes one week before Obama
delivers his final budget proposal to Congress.
It also comes as Obama tries to make good on a pledge he made during
his 2008 campaign to close the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo
Obama is set to deliver a plan to Congress about closing the prison
that will include measures to house a small number of detainees in
facilities in the United States.
Lawmakers strongly oppose that idea.
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Jeff Mason; Editing by
Tom Brown and Leslie Adler)
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