GOP meets to strategize on Trump priorities like health care

Email a Friend

U.S. Representative Chris Collins is interviewed during the 2017

Watch Video

JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now to Congress.

Republican members of the House and Senate are in Philadelphia today for their annual retreat. They are trying to outline an ambitious agenda to accomplish in the next 200 days, and setting the tone for how they will work with President Trump and his administration.

Our Lisa Desjardins has been there.

Lisa, first off, we led off tonight’s program with the announcements by the president today having to do with cracking down on illegal immigration. Of course, one big element of that is the border wall. We know members of Congress, especially the Republicans, are looking at how to pay for that. Have they come up with an answer?

LISA DESJARDINS: There is some news. This is not definitive yet, but a plan seems to be emerging, Judy.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told gathered Republicans today that they should consider possibly a supplemental spending bill. That would be a separate spending bill devoted just to homeland security and maybe some military spending.

Now, a caveat here, that request needs to still come from the president. But this looks like the mechanism. The questions about that bill are, of course, what is in it, probably a border wall, probably all of those new border and customs agents that the president wants. We don’t have a price tag yet, also no clear way how they would pay for it.

But the idea seems to be to get that spending bill off the ground and maybe pass within the next two months.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, Lisa, you have been reminding us, Republicans in Congress tackling a number of complicated issues, what to do about them, taxes, health care. They have been divided among themselves over what to do.

Now that they are getting closer to the nitty-gritty, working out the details, are they coming any closer together to agreement?

LISA DESJARDINS: I spoke to so many Republicans today, Judy.

And there is certainly a will, but the way is not clear yet on many of these issues. There is still major divide over big things like Medicaid and also over some clear just issues of process. How many bills does it take to accomplish all of this? How long does it take to do it?

There is one thing, though that seems to be at least on the tracks, a deadline for when the actual final repeal bill will move through Congress. The House says they want their bill all the way done and voted on in the next month. That is just the repeal, not the replace, but that would be a major step.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, finally Lisa, we know the president is making news on a number of fronts today, issuing executive orders on a variety of things.

He’s been tweeting. He’s been doing interviews. And one of the things that came out late this afternoon in an interview he did with ABC News has to do with his belief, he is stating his belief again that enhanced interrogation, which is one way of saying torture, he believes, can be effective with terror suspects.

On some of these — are things like this and other executive actions and statements by the president, what effect are they having on these conversations among Republicans?

LISA DESJARDINS: Absolutely.

Look at the program we have had tonight. All of the issues that you have brought up tonight have landed on Republicans’ laps coming from the White House in this retreat. This is not what they wanted to talk about, but they have been talking about it. And on torture, there is some divide among Republicans.

For example, I asked Senator John Thune. He said that that is a decided issue, that torture is unlawful. But others, like new Congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of Dick Cheney, said she thinks it’s not that simple.

So there is some divide on that. That is what Republicans have been asked about today. It’s not what they really wanted to talk about.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Fascinating, Lisa Desjardins, on top of it all in Philadelphia.

Thank you, Lisa.

The post GOP meets to strategize on Trump priorities like health care appeared first on PBS NewsHour.