Obama, Hill leaders' meeting agenda: Find common ground

Obama breaks the ice with talk of Ohio State victory
Obama breaks the ice with talk of Ohio State victory


    Obama breaks the ice with talk of Ohio State victory


Obama breaks the ice with talk of Ohio State victory 01:42

Washington (CNN)Cybersecurity, trade and taxes are three areas that President Barack Obama told leaders of the new Congress during a Tuesday meeting that they can work together.

But Obama and top Republican lawmakers also made clear that there's just no way to avoid two looming showdowns: Construction of the Keystone XL pipeline; and a GOP effort to attack Obama's overhaul of immigration rules in the same bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security.
Both sides said those issues came up in the meeting, which featured Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and 19 Republican and Democratic congressional leaders -- but offered no indications that they'd brokered any solutions.
Republicans said they had urged Obama not to threaten vetoes -- as he has on those two measures -- until they are closer to reaching his desk.
    "But unfortunately he's pretty dug in on some of those issue and I don't think he expressed any willingness to reverse his course of action on the veto threats he's already issued," said Sen. John Thune.
    "But I think in terms of the relationship and working with Congress, it's advantageous for him in the long run and for us for him not to draw lines in the sand so early on," the South Dakota Republican said. "Hopefully he was listening."
    In a read-out of the meeting, the White House said Obama called for the Homeland Security Department to be funded "without delay."
    "The President underscored there are priorities that rise above politics -- including keeping Americans safe by promptly and fully funding the Department of Homeland Security without delay so the men and women working there can operate with the confidence they need," the White House said.
    But in a separate read-out, House Speaker John Boehner's office said the Ohio Republican made clear that the immigration provisions, undoing Obama's executive actions to forestall deportations for the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens, as well as his previous move to prevent the deportation of young people who have spent most of their lives in the United States, won't be dropped from the bill.
    "The bill will include amendments to stop the president's unilateral actions on immigration, and the speaker reminded the president that he himself had stated publicly many times in the past that he did not have the power to rewrite immigration law through executive action," Boehner's office said.
    Still, lawmakers departing the meeting said they had identified some areas where they could work together.
    Republicans said they'd encouraged the Obama to send Congress a draft Authorization for Use of Military Force against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
    Obama, meanwhile, offered to cooperate on cybersecurity and on trade -- as he tries to win approval of a bill that would fast-track consideration of blockbuster Pacific Rim and European Union pacts his administration is now negotiating.
    "It was a productive meeting in that we talked about things like cybersecurity and trade, where we thought we could make some headways. I think there is some opportunity there," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
    The White House also said Obama had warned Republicans against imposing additional sanctions on Iran while his administration is negotiating a deal to keep the country from developing nuclear weapons.
    An aide to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said he would not be attending today's White House meeting. The senator, who is still recovering from the injuries he suffered in a New Year's Day exercising accident, is working for home in accordance with his doctor's orders. He has been in frequent contact with others in Democratic leadership.