Obama looking for agreement on taxes, cybersecurity

President Obama said he would look for bipartisan areas of agreement, including on trade, tax, and cybersecurity, ahead of a meeting with House and Senate leaders from both parties at the White House on Tuesday.

“With the Sony attack that took place, with the Twitter account that was hacked by Islamist jihadist sympathizers yesterday, it just goes to show much more work we need to do both public and private sector to strengthen our cybersecurity,” Obama told the leaders at the top of the meeting.

{mosads}The president is slated to announce new legislative proposals to encourage private companies to share data with the federal government in an effort to better protect from cyber attacks. Obama will also propose giving law enforcement greater discretion to go after online criminals.

The president said that in discussions with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) he was encouraged “this is an area where we can work hard together, get some legislation done and make sure that we are much more effective in protecting the American people from these kinds of cyberattacks.”

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said he was looking forward to the meeting, and a discussion of the president’s proposals to address cyber crime. He said that he hoped “the president’s actions on this critical subject match his rhetoric about working with Congress.”

Obama, facing full Republican control of Congress for the first time in his presidency, looked to project an air of collegiality, congratulating Boehner after the Ohio State Buckeyes won Monday night’s college football national championship.

“I said there are going to be some things that we agree on. Having a college football playoff is clearly something we can agree on. I’m all for it,” Obama said. “I think it turned out pretty well, particularly for Ohio.”

But the meeting comes after a flurry of veto threats emanating from the White House, prompting questions over how useful the gathering will prove. Last week, the White House said it would veto legislation that approves the Keystone XL pipeline, redefines the definition of full time under the president’s signature healthcare law, and rolls back financial reforms.

On Monday, the White House said it would also reject a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security that included language rolling back Obama’s executive actions on immigration, as well as legislation requiring the administration to conduct a cost analysis of every new regulation.

Obama acknowledged “disagreements” among those at the table, but said he was hopeful that lawmakers could build on recent economic “progress.”

“We’re in a position to make sure that 2015 is an even stronger year, and relative to our competitors, we are holding much better cards,” Obama said. “The key now is for us to work as a team to build on this progress.”

Administration officials insisted the veto threats shouldn’t be an impediment toward working together on issues like infrastructure, trade, and tax reform.

“None of the veto threats that you’ve heard from us in the last week or so has at all been a surprise, particularly because the pieces of the legislation that we’re talking about are pieces of legislation on which the administration already had well-known views,” Earnest said.

“So, while it may raise questions in the minds of some Republicans about the president’s willingness to work with Republicans in Congress to advance priorities, it might also raise questions in the mind of some others that Republicans have chosen as their first few pieces of legislation bills that they know the president opposes.”

And Earnest said that despite 16 lawmakers being invited to the event, the White House hoped the discussion could be productive. At the same time, he cautioned not to expect “final agreements will be reached on any momentous pieces of legislation.”

“Often, it’s hard to reach a final agreement on something when you have a large number of people in the room,” Earnest said.

The meeting was one member short, however. A spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who injured himself over the holiday in a workout accident, said Reid was missing the meeting “on doctor’s orders.”

“He continues to work from home and looks forward to returning to the Senate floor soon,” tweeted Reid aide Kristen Orthman.

This story was updated at 11:59 a.m.

Tags Boehner Harry Reid John Boehner John Thune Mitch McConnell

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