President Barack Obama will meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., next week to discuss legislative priorities and potential areas of common ground in 2016.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest informed reporters at his weekly briefing that the president would meet with the Republican leaders on Tuesday, one day after the Iowa Caucuses.
Earnest said the group would meet "to discuss legislative priorities in the coming year building on the bipartisan budget agreement that was signed into law."
The meeting will be the first time Obama and Ryan have sat down together since Ryan was elected speaker in October. The budget agreement Earnest referred to was negotiated as Ryan's predecessor, John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, was heading out the door. Ryan ultimately supported the agreement, but said the process of crafting it at the last-minute "stinks ."
Earnest said they have been in discussions with Ryan since the beginning of the year about setting up a meeting with the president. "It's obviously been a busy couple of weeks," he said, when asked why it has taken so long for Obama to sit down with the new speaker.
The president will discuss potential areas of cooperation between the White House and Congress as Obama heads into his final year in office, Earnest said. After Obama's final State of the Union address, some Republicans appeared open to some of Obama's priorities , particularly overhauling the criminal justice system and authorizing the use of force against the Islamic State.
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