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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.”

Obama, Ryan to Lunch Tuesday at White House

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as he arrives to deliver his final State of the Union address. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The White House expects President Barack Obama and the Republican House and Senate leaders on Tuesday to discuss issues ranging from taxes to criminal justice to national security.  

Obama is scheduled to meet privately with Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Later, he and Ryan will have a one-on-one lunch meeting. It will be Obama’s first private meeting with Ryan since the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee became speaker in late October. Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters the trio should discuss several matters on which they appear to agree. That list includes a sweeping trade pact Obama’s administration negotiated with Asian countries, battling the heroin epidemic, and authorizing the fight against the Islamic State.  

SOTU: Obama Tries to Reassure Anxious Public

Obama works at his desk in the Oval Office on Tuesday as he prepares to give his 7th and the final State of the Union address. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama will take an optimistic message about the future of America to Capitol Hill on Tuesday evening, using his final State of the Union to reassure a distressed public and challenge a restive Congress.  

Obama hopes to use his final address to lawmakers to strike a stark contrast with what the White House has described as “gloom and doom” talk from the Republican presidential candidates about the trajectory of the country. He and his top aides are previewing the prime time speech as a break from tradition, saying Obama will speak in broad terms rather than lay out a sweeping legislative agenda.

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.  

Obama, Netanyahu Aim to Get Past Iran Deal Tension

(Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama said Monday it's time he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu get past their "strong disagreement" over the Iran nuclear deal and work toward "blunting destabilizing activities" in Iran that threaten Israel.  

The two leaders, joined by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and senior aides, huddled for several hours in the Oval Office in their first face-to-face meeting in more than a year. Both spoke briefly before their closed-door meeting about working together to quell violence in the Palestinian territories, bolstering Israel’s military and combating the Islamic State terror group.  

White House Throws First Elbow at Speaker Ryan

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The White House dinged Speaker Paul D. Ryan Monday for suggesting President Barack Obama “kept poisoning the well” two years ago, when immigration overhaul legislation died in the House.  

Press Secretary Josh Earnest sharply criticized Ryan for the first time during his embryonic speakership, calling it "preposterous" for the Wisconsin Republican to claim Obama "kept poisoning the well" during efforts in 2013 to overhaul the country's immigration system, according to a White House pool report. While appearing on all five Sunday morning talk shows, Ryan said he will not advance immigration legislation while Obama is in office, and blamed the president's past actions for his plans.  

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.  

November Social Security Checks Could Hinge on Debt Deal

Lew makes his way to a lunch with Senate Democrats in the Capitol earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lawmakers have another reason to move quickly to address the debt ceiling: senior citizens.  

Thursday's update to the timing that the Treasury Department says the country will go past the nation's borrowing authority in 19 days raises questions about November's Social Security checks.  

Debt Limit Coming a Month Earlier Than Expected (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:56 p.m. | The Treasury Department said Thursday it would reach the debt limit a bit earlier than was expected by many on Capitol Hill.  

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew told Congress in a new letter that thanks in part to lower-than-expected quarterly tax receipts, the extraordinary measures to forestall breaching the debt limit, combined with the new revenues, will run their course just a week after the resignation of Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, takes effect.  

White House Keeps Up Export-Import Bank Push

Reps. Paul Tonko, Joyce Beatty and Carolyn Maloney conduct a news conference Wednesday on the Joint Economic Committee's report supporting the Export-Import Bank. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama is pushing hard for a deal reviving the Export-Import Bank before Congress heads home for the August recess — Donald Trump notwithstanding.

"These next couple of weeks, before Congress adjourns, is the time for us to go ahead and complete this," he said as he met with officials from companies across the country who have benefited from the financing the bank provides for exports.