President Obama next Tuesday will meet with Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanPresident Obama should curb mass incarceration with clemency Senators move to protect 'Dreamers' Cruz, DeSantis to introduce constitutional amendment on term limits MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellPresident Obama should curb mass incarceration with clemency Cruz, DeSantis to introduce constitutional amendment on term limits Democrats back down from shutdown threat MORE (R-Ky.), the White House announced Friday.
It’s Obama’s first formal sit-down with Ryan since he was elected Speaker in October.
Asked why it took nearly three months to schedule the meeting, Earnest cited the president’s State of the Union address and last weekend’s snowstorm that shut down the nation’s capital for days.
“It’s obviously been a busy couple of weeks,” Earnest said. “But this is the opportunity we’ve had to meet and the president is looking forward to the conversation. Based on the success we had last year in finding some common ground to advance a whole range of shared priorities, there’s plenty to talk about this year, too.”
"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," said Ryan spokesman Doug Andres.
The president’s to-do list for his final year in office is not long, but it includes big-ticket items such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and an overhaul of the criminal justice system.
Obama will need Republican votes to pass both proposals.
But bipartisan cooperation could be hard to come by this year as the presidential campaign overwhelms Capitol Hill.
Ryan has signaled a willingness to vote on a trade deal and a criminal justice bill this year. But McConnell has sounded noncommittal about both proposals.
Obama's team was dealt a blow Friday when the White House announced legislative affairs chief Katie Beirne Fallon is stepping down from her post.
The president met last week with the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Harry ReidHarry ReidStaff shakeup begins at Dem campaign committee The Hill's 12:30 Report Emanuel flips the bird when asked about 2020 MORE (Nev.)
Earnest joked that the meeting won’t officially count as the Obama-McConnell “bourbon summit,” which has been talked about since Republicans took control of the Senate in 2014.
“My guess is that the meeting will take place in the late morning or early afternoon,” the spokesman said, adding that might be an appropriate time to enjoy a drink in some offices, “but not in the Oval Office.”
This story was updated at 2:40 p.m.