- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 25, 2017

President Trump will huddle with congressional Republicans Thursday at their annual retreat to build momentum for his agenda of creating jobs and cutting taxes, addressing lawmakers hungry for action after eight years of gridlock with former President Barack Obama.

At the GOP retreat in Philadelphia, Mr. Trump will gather for the first time with virtually all House and Senate Republicans to talk about the legislative agenda for his presidency’s first 100 days, including the details of repealing Obamacare.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump ally, said he expects the president to emphasize action on populist campaign promises such as tax relief, border security and energy production.

“He will give a speech that’s positive and focused on what he’s trying to get done and indicate he wants to work with them, but he is determined to get it done,” Mr. Gingrich said Wednesday. “He’ll be very high on national defense, very high on jobs, on controlling the border and on infrastructure.”

The president will find most lawmakers “excited” about the possibilities for this year, said Tommy Binion, director of policy outreach at The Heritage Foundation.

“Most of their proposals were guaranteed to be vetoed by the Obama administration,” he said. “That’s a very different scenario today with President Trump. There’s an eight-year backlog of good, conservative ideas that now have a fighting chance. I think there’s a lot of hope about that.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the president also will “provide an update on the action that he’s going to be taking in the next few days,” possibly a reference to Mr. Trump’s pending nomination to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. The president said he will make that announcement next Thursday.

One of the leading contenders is believed to be Judge Neil Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Republican lawmakers also are hoping that controversies such alleged voter fraud, raised by Mr. Trump this week, won’t obscure the president’s message.

The president’s visit to the GOP retreat, along with Vice President Mike Pence, also will showcase the budding partnership of Mr. Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, who clashed with Mr. Trump during the campaign last year. After Mr. Trump won the election, Mr. Ryan said of their previous tensions, “The past is the past.”

On Wednesday, the first day of the retreat, Mr. Ryan laid out for lawmakers an agenda for repealing and replacing Obamacare by April, paying for Mr. Trump’s proposed wall along the Mexican border and approving tax reform before the traditional August vacation period.

Mr. Ryan is a policy wonk with long-term goals of budget and entitlement reform, while Mr. Trump is relying more on the force of his personal style to pursue his goals.

“There is a coherence we don’t pick up on because Trump’s not an academic person,” Mr. Gingrich said. “He’s an entrepreneur, and he creates a lot of coherence through energy and action, rather than by talking and theoretical stuff.”

Mr. Binion said whatever else comes out of the meetings, the president and Congress need to agree on a course of action for repealing Obamacare.

“Coming out of the retreat, they need to have a united front about what exactly the repeal bill is going to look like and how that process is going to go,” he said.

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