(Bloomberg) — Paul Ryan is set to attend his first formal meeting as House speaker with President Barack Obama on Tuesday morning. A few hours later, Ryan’s House will seek to override Obama’s veto of a bill gutting much of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the president’s signature health insurance law.
The timing may not bode well for their prospects of finding common ground, but it will be a chance for both men to gauge what, if anything, can be accomplished before the election stifles the prospects of any major legislation.
Ryan plans to bring up several issues, including the U.S. strategy for dealing with the Islamic State terrorist group, and prohibitions on transfers of detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to congressional aides familiar with the Wisconsin Republican’s agenda.
He also plans to discuss the administration’s interpretation of changes to the visa waiver program that would allow certain people who have traveled to nations connected to terrorism concerns, such as Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria, to enter the U.S. visa-free. Republicans have said this is contrary to the intent of provisions in the $1.1 trillion spending law passed in December.
Obama’s topic list includes his new cancer-fighting initiative as well as the need to address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Monday.
“While the House is focused on a bold agenda for 2017, the speaker appreciates the opportunity to see if we can find any areas of common ground in the year ahead,” Ryanspokesman Doug Andres said in an e-mailed statement.
There won’t be much, but the two are aligned in a few policy areas. The speaker has supported Obama’s 12-nation Asia- Pacific trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And Ryanlargely agrees with Obama’s proposal to overhaul the criminal justice system by reducing prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes.
“They just need to touch gloves,” joked House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas, likening the meeting to two fighters obligingly greeting before the opening bell.
“But they do need to try and get some things done,” he said.
Ryan and Obama have been trying to schedule a meal for a while since he took over the speaker’s gavel at the end of October. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, and Vice President Joe Biden will join them for a meeting before the private lunch.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that House Republicans have a conservative agenda “we’re going to push through” and that details of how an internal task force will start work on that agenda will be rolled out this week.
McCarthy, of California, said that a topic of the Ryan- Obama meeting could be “where does the president think he can engage?”
The House later Tuesday plans to try to override Obama’s veto of a bill, H.R. 3762, that would undo much of PPACA. The two-thirds majority needed in both chambers to override the president’s veto doesn’t exist, but Ryan and Republicans want to show their conservative base they’ve tried.
Also on Tuesday, the House is set to vote on a bill, H.R. 3662, to slap additional sanctions on Iran, which critics have said is designed to undo the Iran nuclear deal that Obama negotiated.
Are you following us on Facebook?