WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is huddling with congressional Republicans, Cabinet secretaries and aides at Camp David this weekend to discuss their 2018 legislative priorities.
A long list of high-stakes topics are on the agenda, including the budget, infrastructure, immigration, welfare reform and the 2018 midterm elections.
“We’re going to Camp David with a lot of the great Republican senators, and we’re making America great again,” Trump said Friday afternoon as he left the White House for the presidential retreat in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains. He is being joined by Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, among others.
The session’s first meeting between Trump and the top congressional Republicans was held Friday afternoon. The White House said they discussed “the shared priorities that will shape the 2018 legislative agenda and soon be outlined in the President’s State of the Union Address at the end of the month.”
Republicans are beginning the new year with newfound optimism after finally scoring a win by passing the tax bill at the end of last year.
They face a pile of unfinished business that was punted into this year during the push on taxes. Just two weeks remain until a Jan. 19 government funding deadline, and there is little visible progress on several contentious issues, including a budget deal to boost spending on both the Pentagon and nondefense agencies and to extend protections for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.
Talks are also expected to touch on a range of other issues, including the opioid epidemic and health care. And lawmakers are expected to hash out the order in which they plan to tackle two top White House priorities: a long-delayed infrastructure drive and welfare reform.
Senate Republicans are already dismissing a promised push by House conservatives to curb benefit programs like welfare and food stamps, and it’s unclear what agenda items would get the requisite Democratic support for success, particularly in the Senate.
Politics, too, is on the agenda, GOP officials say, with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., slated to lead a discussion on the political landscape for House Republicans, who are at risk of losing the majority they’ve held since 2011. McConnell, R-Ky., will do the same for the Senate, where GOP losses are possible, too, though many more Democratic incumbents are up for re-election.
The group will be joined Saturday by a number of top administration officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
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