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Trump Maps Out Agenda with Republican Congressional Leaders

  • Michael Bowman

Two days after his stunning victory, Donald Trump made his first visit to the Capitol as president-elect to meet with Republican leaders and discuss his ambitious legislative to-do list for the early months of his administration.

After meeting Thursday with President Barack Obama, Trump worked with House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican.

"We are now talking about how we are going to hit the ground running, to make sure that we can get this country turned around and make America great again," Ryan said, with Trump seated at his side.

"We're going to lower taxes, we're going to fix health care and make it more affordable and better," Trump said moments later.

WATCH: Trump Honored to Meet with Congressional Leaders

On the other side of the Capitol, Trump conferred with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the other man he will rely on to shepherd his agenda through Congress.

"A lot of really great priorities," Trump said afterward. "We're looking very strongly at immigration; we're going to look at the borders. Very importantly, we're looking very strongly at health care and we're looking at jobs. Big league jobs."

"It was a first-class meeting," McConnell told reporters.

Democratic hopes dashed

Before the election, the majority leader often refused to discuss Trump — or even mention his name.

"I don't particularly want to sit here today and critique the presidential campaigns," McConnell said weeks ago in response to persistent questions from reporters about Trump's often-incendiary comments on the campaign trail.

President-elect Donald Trump, his wife Melania, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky walk on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 10, 2016.

President-elect Donald Trump, his wife Melania, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky walk on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 10, 2016.

By contrast, Democratic lawmakers had been unabashedly exuberant about their presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and optimistic about advancing their policy goals right up to the final hours of election night.

"Tackle climate change and safeguard our planet!" roared New York Senator Chuck Schumer at a victory party for his successful reelection bid. "Pass comprehensive immigration reform, and get a functioning Supreme Court — a Supreme Court that will protect women's rights, voting rights."

But that vision hinged on a key assumption that proved false — that Clinton would beat Trump.

'A lot of change'

Now, it is Republicans who are laying plans for the coming year.

"We would like to see the country go in a different direction," McConnell said at a news conference Wednesday.

WATCH: McConnell Discusses Transition Issues with Trump

With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, McConnell expects action on taxes, repealing Obamacare, and filling a Supreme Court vacancy.

"The American people have spoken, and President Trump will send us a nominee, I assume, early next year," the majority leader said.

"This Congress controlled by Republicans — they are going to act," said political analyst Darrell West of the Washington-based Brookings Institution. "They have an agenda of things they want to do. They have the votes to push them through. So, people are going to see a lot of change."

Much of that change will target President Barack Obama's legacy. Senate Democrats will be able to use procedural tactics to block some, but not all, Republican agenda items. And on some matters, like Trump's pledge to build a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, divisions among Republicans could be exposed.

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