This week: Trump, GOP lawmakers look to get on the same page

President Trump is heading to Capitol Hill this week to meet with Senate Republicans amid a recent string of high-profile fights with key members.

The president is scheduled to huddle with GOP senators on Tuesday — the first time he's met with the full caucus since taking over the White House in January.

The closed-door meeting is expected to focus on the increasingly packed fall agenda, including Republicans' goal of getting tax reform passed this year.

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“We are pleased to announce that President Trump will join us next Tuesday to press our common agenda and speed a great American recovery,” Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoLatest Trump proposal on endangered species could limit future habitat, critics say Republicans dismiss Trump proposal to delay election Barrasso nuclear bill latest GOP effort to boost uranium mining MORE (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, said in a statement. 

Trump has kicked a growing number of issues to Congress, including potentially cracking down on Iran, key ObamaCare insurance payments and what to do about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Lawmakers also face a Dec. 8 deadline to fund the government.

Despite having the first unified government in roughly a decade Republicans have struggled to score legislative and political wins. They failed to repeal and replace ObamaCare and their tax plan is running months behind their originally planned schedule. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks Overnight Health Care: Ohio governor tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Trump's visit | US shows signs of coronavirus peak, but difficult days lie ahead | Trump: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready 'right around' Election Day MORE (R-Ky.) and Trump held a joint press conference last week to try to underscore that both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are on the same page.

But the president's meeting with the caucus will come after GOP senators appeared to be caught off guard when Trump privately encouraged bipartisan health care negotiations only to publicly suggest he couldn't support the details of the agreement. 

He's also taken shots at several GOP senators, including McConnell, and most recently Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' Mark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Prominent conservatives question Jerry Falwell Jr. vacation photo MORE (Ariz.) and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTennessee primary battle turns nasty for Republicans Cheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama MORE (Tenn.). 

Trump has previously invited GOP senators to the White House, including for strategy sessions on health care and North Korea. He also met with the GOP caucus last July ahead of the party's national convention in Cleveland.

During that meeting, he got into a heated exchange with Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (R-Ariz.), who was a vocal critic of then-candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign.

 

Finalizing a budget

Republicans in both chambers, eager to get tax reform moving as soon as possible, may reach a final agreement on a budget this week.

The Senate narrowly adopted a budget on Thursday, with an amendment that included technical and procedural language from the House budget.

The amendment may be enough for the House to simply agree to the Senate resolution and avoid a conference committee between the two chambers. A vote this week in the House to do so would speed up the tax reform process by at least a few weeks.

House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackBottom line Overnight Health Care: Anti-abortion Democrats take heat from party | More states sue Purdue over opioid epidemic | 1 in 4 in poll say high costs led them to skip medical care Lamar Alexander's exit marks end of an era in evolving Tennessee MORE (R-Tenn.) had pushed for $203 billion in deficit reductions from mandatory spending, which was included in the lower chamber’s budget adopted earlier this month. A conference committee would likely result in a product adhering more closely to the Senate budget, which would allow the GOP’s tax plan to add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade.

Black is nonetheless indicating a willingness to go along with the Senate version to speed up the process.

“I look forward to swift passage and to working with the president on tax reform, to provide relief to all Americans,” Black said.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBudowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey Democratic super PAC quotes Reagan in anti-Trump ad set to air on Fox News: 'Are you better off?' Trump lashes out at Reagan Foundation after fundraising request MORE (R-Wis.) has laid out an ambitious timeline of the House passing tax legislation in November, so it can be enacted into law by the end of the year.

McConnell and Trump, meanwhile, sought to manage expectations during a joint appearance at the White House last week and suggested tax reform might not get done until 2018.

But first, the House Ways and Means Committee has to finish crafting a tax bill that adheres to the final budgetary outlines.

“When the budget is signed, sealed, and delivered, the Ways and Means Committee will introduce bold legislation that will deliver tax relief, grow our economy, and dramatically improve the lives of all Americans,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyStimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility Pelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive Trump signs executive orders aimed at lowering drug prices MORE (R-Texas) said in a statement.

 

Disaster relief

The Senate is poised to pass a House-passed disaster relief bill aimed at helping communities impacted by a string of hurricanes and wildfires.

McConnell filed cloture on the legislation Thursday night, setting up a procedural vote for Monday evening. The move would allow senators to pass the bill by Wednesday morning, if they drag out the debate clock.

Lawmakers had mulled adding more funding to the legislation amid complaints from states impacted by the natural disasters that the House bill didn't provide enough help.

"I think so far what has been done is not been as much as we should do, so we're having a conversation with various members who come from the regions affected by Maria, by Irma, by Harvey, by wildfires, other natural disasters," Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSkepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal Republicans uncomfortably playing defense Negotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts MORE (R-Texas) told reporters on Wednesday.

But senators now appear poised to pass the House bill as-is.

They had hoped to be able to clear the deal late last week after passing the fiscal 2018 budget. But McConnell's move to file cloture implies that at least one senator is slow-walking it.

The legislation would provide $36.5 billion to fund hurricane relief, a flood insurance program and wildfire recovery efforts in the West amid a string of natural disasters.

That includes $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund, $16 billion to address national flood insurance program debt and $576.5 million for wildfire recovery efforts. It also provided $1.27 billion for disaster food assistance for Puerto Rico.

 

Sanctions, regulatory reform

The House is expected to consider legislation to crack down on North Korea and Iran.

The proposed sanctions will take aim at Iran’s ballistic missile program, as well as the Hezbollah militia. Consideration of the non-nuclear sanctions comes after Trump refused to certify this month that Iran is complying with the international agreement to curb its nuclear program.

“It is Congress’ responsibility to work with the executive branch on a clear-eyed strategy to stop Iran’s reckless behavior,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said in a joint statement.

Congress has 60 days to reimpose sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program that were lifted under the accord, but lawmakers have not indicated imminent plans to take action. Instead, Republicans like Royce have said the U.S. should enforce the Iran nuclear deal instead of pulling out of it.

Lawmakers are also expected to target North Korea with legislation authored by Rep. Andy BarrAndy BarrThe Hill's Campaign Report: The political heavyweights in Tuesday's primary fights Democrat Josh Hicks wins Kentucky primary to challenge Andy Barr McGrath fends off Booker to win Kentucky Senate primary MORE (R-Ky.) to direct the Treasury Department to ban U.S. financial institutions from knowingly engaging in significant transactions that benefit people or entities associated with the North Korean government.

It would further authorize cutting off financial assistance to foreign governments that knowingly fail to prevent financial services that reach Pyongyang.

In addition, the House will spend time this week on legislation to limit donation terms in settlements made by the Justice Department and restrict federal agencies’ ability to enter settlement agreements when facing lawsuits from special interest groups.