trade

Ryan, McConnell Find Little 'Common Ground' at White House

Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walk to the Senate Republicans' policy lunch in the Capitol on Nov. 3. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama's private meetings with congressional Republican leaders appeared to do very little to  break the legislative impasse that largely has defined his tenure.  

Descriptions of the meeting from both ends of Pennsylvania Ave. were clinical at best. Notably missing were usual Washington declarations that a high-level meeting was “productive” or “constructive.” Asked about that omission, an aide to Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., called the speaker’s time on Tuesday with Obama “cordial.”

Was There Ever an Obama-Ryan Honeymoon?

Ryan greets Obama as he arrives to deliver his final State of the Union address while Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. looks on. It was one of Ryan's few smiles of the evening. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama repeatedly had to raise his voice to be heard over cheering Democratic lawmakers during his State of the Union address on Jan. 12. But Speaker Paul D. Ryan sat motionless, his face frozen in a polite — but unimpressed — expression.  

Obama used part of his likely final address to a joint session of Congress to extol policy whims long pushed by Democrats like pre-kindergarten “for all” children and a government-led effort to “to make college affordable for every American.” He also called it a “basic fact” that the U.S. “has the strongest, most durable economy in the world,” saying the country is “in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history.”  

Praise, Criticism for GOP as Obama Wraps 2015

Obama delivered a downright upbeat 2015 legislative victory lap and 2016 pep talk before leaving the White House. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

During his year-end news conference, President Barack Obama took the kinds of partisan shots that for years have so frustrated congressional Republicans. But he also flashed the pragmatic streak that helped him notch several legislative victories in 2015.  

On one hand, Obama praised Republicans for crafting several high-profile bills that met his muster. But on the other, he clubbed the GOP for bucking the rest of the world for its rejection of the very concept of climate change. The president and Capitol Hill Republicans have had a rocky relationship since even before he took office in January 2009, and the bad blood has made Washington a symbol of legislative dysfunction ever since. But the ill will seemed to dissipate a bit this year, as he signed into law sweeping bills on education, highways, the Export-Import Bank, and a massive spending bill that raises defense and domestic budget caps and also averts a government shutdown.  

Brady Set to Replace Ryan as Ways and Means Chairman

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:43 p.m. | Kevin Brady was chosen to replace Paul D. Ryan as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.  

Republicans quickly congratulated the Texas Republican for his selection by the Republican Steering Committee to head the powerful tax-writing panel. The choice must still be ratified by the full Republican Conference in a vote scheduled for Thursday morning, but that is expected to be a formality. Ryan spoke in Brady's favor, saying “he felt Kevin was the guy,” Rep. Lynn Westmoreland told reporters. “And I’m sure that carried a lot of weight.”  

Brady Makes Pitch for Ways and Means Gavel

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Hours after Paul D. Ryan was sworn in as speaker, Rep. Kevin Brady made his pitch to succeed the Wisconsin Republican on the Ways and Means Committee.  

"We need a pro-growth conservative who can advance Paul Ryan's pro-growth agenda," the Texas Republican said during a taping of C-SPAN's "Newsmakers," which airs Sunday. Brady announced his intent to run for chairman of the powerful tax-writing committee even before Ryan's election as speaker, but the race kicked off Thursday once Ryan was sworn in.  

White House Casts Budget Deal as Jobs Engine

President Barack Obama (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House is describing a budget and debt deal it struck with congressional leaders as a job-creation engine, a day before a key Senate vote on the measure.  

The Obama administration used a statement about gross domestic product growth during the third quarter of 2015 to predict the sweeping fiscal plan would create "an estimated 340,000 jobs in 2016." The Senate is on track for a Friday procedural vote on the deal after the House passed it , with mostly Democratic votes, on Wednesday.  

Obama, Ryan Must Find Common Ground Soon

Ryan will seek the House speakership. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

There could be little President Barack Obama can do to find common ground with Paul D. Ryan, given their deep ideological differences and House conservatives’ inevitable demands for the speaker-in-waiting.  

With Ryan's announcement that he will seek the speakership, all eyes now turn to the Wisconsin Republican's ability to manage his fractious caucus and find just enough common ground with a president many conservatives revile. Ryan will have little time to settle in because of some fast-approaching fiscal deadlines. Congressional leaders must find a way in coming weeks to avoid a potentially catastrophic debt default, then see if they can strike a long-term budget deal.  

Obama Deflects Comment on Clinton, Biden

Clinton has come out against the TPP, Obama's signature trade deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama appeared irritated Friday when he was asked about Hillary Rodham Clinton's opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership — declining to comment on her flip-flop on an agreement she praised as his secretary of State.  

"With respect to the trade and how Hillary views trade, I would have you direct questions to her," Obama said at a joint press conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye   in the East Room of the White House. "I mean, here is a general proposition, guys. During the course of what will be a long campaign, I probably won't be commenting on every single utterance or decision that the various candidates make, because I think that it is natural and proper for candidates to run on their own vision and their own platform," he said. During Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, Clinton said regarding the deal, "I did say, when I was secretary of State, three years ago, that I hoped it would be the gold standard. It was just finally negotiated last week, and in looking at it, it didn't meet my standards. ... And I want to make sure that I can look into the eyes of any middle-class American and say, 'This will help raise your wages.' And I concluded I could not."  

Hillary Clinton Opposes TPP 'as of Today' (Video) (Updated)

Hillary Clinton said she's not in favor of the TPP, based on what she knows today. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:31 p.m. | In a major break with President Barack Obama and her own past record, Hillary Rodham Clinton said she doesn't support the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.  

"What I know about it, as of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it," Clinton told PBS NewsHour's Judy Woodruff Wednesday. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jeh-14A8Rbc&feature=youtu.be