Donald Trump swept through corridors of Congress on Thursday afternoon emerging from meetings with Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and House speaker Paul Ryan saying he had underlined three areas for swift action next year - healthcare, jobs and immigration.
“We're going to move very strongly on immigration,” President-elect Trump said just two days after his historic win over Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. “We will move very strongly on health care. And we're looking at jobs. Big league jobs.”
Earlier, he held 90 minutes of face-to-face talks with President Barack Obama at the White House. It was the first time the two men had met in person and afterwards both struck a positive note with reporters, in a show of civility that contrasted with the often rancourous warfare they had engaged in during the heat of the campaign.
“We now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed the country succeeds,” Mr Obama told the victorious Republican as reporters - and a thick wall of television cameras - looked on.
Melania Trump, the next first lady, accompanied her husband to 1600 Pennsylvania where, behind the scenes, she received a guided tour of its apartments from Michelle Obama, who herself had been a headline campaigner for Ms Clinton in the presidential contest.
Smiles were also on display on Capitol Hill, where Ms Trump was also part of the entourage along with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who will have his own office in the Senate. Between meetings with Mr Ryan and Mr McConnell, Mr Trump was also escorted outside briefly to glimpse the West steps, which in just over two months will be the scene of his swearing in.
If there is clear jubilation among Republican members of Congress that with the unexpected showing by Mr Trump on Tuesday they now have control of both chambers on Capitol Hill and of the White House, there was also little disguising the dissonances between the programme Mr Trump had campaigned on and their priorities, particularly in the House.
Mr Ryan and he had a particularly fractious relationship during the campaign. After Access Hollywood tapes emerged early in October in which Mr Trump could be heard speaking in highly offensive terms about his sexual advances on women, Mr Ryan declared he would no longer be campaigning for him, a position from which he was later to retreat
For his part, Mr Trump repeatedly rehearsed his view of Mr Ryan as a weak and ineffective leader of the party. “This guy lost four years ago in like a landslide,” he remarked on one occasion, mocking the decision of the 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, to pick Mr Ryan as his running mate.
Their policy differences are significant. Mr Ryan has spent most of his career trying to push through legislation to slash what the US spends on social health programmes, known as entitlements, including Medicare and Medicaid. Mr Trump repeatedly vowed to leave funding for those programmes alone. Mr Ryan has been a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform which Mr Trump has also cut against.
Mr Trump has promised to deport millions of undocumented residents in the United States and build a wall on the US-Mexico border. His priority as regards healthcare, if he sticks by his campaign platform, will be to dismember Mr Obama’s signature healthcare law, known as Obamacare. While that would receive support from the conservative wing of the party, killing off Obamacare without a developed plan to replace it would carry considerable political risk.
The White House confirmed that at their meeting, Mr Trump and Mr Obama had sought to move beyond the harsh words they had had for each other before Tuesday. “The two men did not relitigate their differences in the Oval Office,” Josh Earnest, the chief spokesperson, said. “We're on to the next phase.”
Mr Trump’s promise of new jobs is partly predicated on his being able to enact the massive infrastructure-building programme he frequently spoke of when he was a candidate and again in his victory speech in the early hours of Wednesday. However, he will need first to get Congress to authorise the necessary funding that could run into hundreds of billions of dollars.
A similar effort was pushed for over many years by President Obama who always found himself stymied by Republicans on Capitol Hill. It would be an irony if Mr Trump gets them to change their minds and ends up enacting more or less the kind of building project that Mr Obama always had in mind but couldn’t get through.Reuse content