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Obama Pushes for Deals on Cybersecurity, Trade, Taxes (Updated)

Updated 1:22 p.m. | President Barack Obama kicked off his meeting with congressional leaders this morning missing an injured Harry Reid, who is under doctor’s orders to stay at home as he recovers from his injuries.  

With the press pool ushered into the room for brief remarks, Obama said he was looking for areas of agreement, including cybersecurity, trade, taxes and “streamlining government,” per the pool report.  

Obama also joked that one area of bipartisan agreement was the college football playoff system and congratulated Ohio State for its victory. Obama has long backed having a playoff system.

“Some of these folks, I haven’t seen, so I had an opportunity to wish them a happy new year. To the speaker, I just wanted to point out, I said there are going to be some things that we agree on. Having a college football playoff is clearly something we can agree on. I’m all for it. … I think it turned out pretty well, particularly for Ohio. I congratulate the Ohio State Buckeyes for their outstanding victory and commend Oregon as well for building a great team.”

Obama also touted the improving economy, per the pool report.

“We’re in a position to make sure that 2015 is an even stronger year, and relative to our competitors, we are holding much better cards. The key now is for us to work as a team to build on this progress.”

He cited the Sony hack and the hacking of Central Command’s Twitter account as reasons to do a cybersecurity bill.

“I’ve got a state of the Union next week, one of the things we’re going to be talking about is cybersecurity. With the Sony attack that took place, with the Twitter account that was hacked by Islamist jihadist sympathizers yesterday, it just goes to show much more work we need to do both public and private sector to strengthen our cyber security,” he said.

Obama says he’s spoken to Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on cybersecurity and “I think we agreed that this is an area where we can work hard together, get some legislation done and make sure that we are much more effective in protecting the American people from these kinds of cyberattacks.”

Boehner’s office released a readout after the meeting saying that topics discussed included Boehner’s backing of an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIL and new cybersecurity measures. Boehner urged Obama to send an AUMF to Congress and pledged to work to get it through.

Boehner touted the Keystone XL pipeline and urged Obama to sign it, and also talked about working with the president on trade and overhauling the tax code.

And Boehner talked about the Homeland Security appropriations bill.

“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,” the readout said.

Boehner told Obama the House had passed cyber bills but they hadn’t gone anywhere in the Senate. He said Republicans are prepared to address the issue.


Reid has not returned to the Senate since an exercising accident in his home that broke a number of bones and damaged one eye.

“On doctor’s orders, Senator Reid will not be attending today’s meeting with President Obama,” a spokesperson from his office said. “He continues to work from home and looks forward to returning to the Senate floor soon.”  

Eighteen lawmakers attended the bipartisan meeting, include the top leaders in both parties and both chambers.  

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