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Donald Trump

The 5 questions Hill Republicans should ask Trump

Former President Donald Trump will return to Washington tomorrow to meet with House Republicans at the Capitol Hill Club. That will be followed with a closed-door session with Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Let’s be honest — these meetings are more for show than anything else. They’re private rallies for Trump, which suits him and GOP lawmakers just fine. You’ve been watching Trump since 2015 just like we have. Do you think Trump is going into these gatherings armed with a PowerPoint presentation and briefing books outlining the first six months of a new presidency? We don’t either.

But this is the first Trump meeting with Hill Republicans since his conviction in the New York City hush-money case. So it’s a big deal.

For their part, Senate Republicans are seeking a display of unity heading into an election in which they have a very good chance of winning a majority. Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), who’s close with Trump, said he hopes the confab will help Republicans avoid “the bickering and fighting thing that we have [had] in the past.”

Senate Republicans will also have a new leader next year. If Trump is elected, he could have major sway over the outcome of that race.

Meanwhile, Speaker Mike Johnson has been intent on laying the groundwork for the first 100 days of a possible Trump administration. Johnson will brief GOP senators today on his plans for using budget reconciliation to achieve a wide swath of policy initiatives.

Here are five questions GOP lawmakers should ask Trump. But we have a disclaimer: Trump is locked in a tight battle with President Joe Biden. House Republicans will be very lucky to have the majority in 2025. Senate Republicans have a great map, but nothing is guaranteed anymore. With that said, let’s go.

1) Will you take aim at the filibuster? Trump spent a lot of energy in his first term railing against the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for clearing legislation. We anticipate he’ll do the same if he’s elected again — especially when the filibuster inevitably is the reason why Republicans aren’t able to pass parts of his agenda.

As we wrote last month, Senate Republicans are adamant that they won’t give in to pressure to gut the legislative filibuster. All of the candidates for leadership roles in the conference say this as well.

But a GOP sweep of Congress would put this issue on the front burner. The key factor would be how big a majority Senate Republicans have.

2) What about the Trump tax cuts? The 2017 Trump tax cuts expire next year. Most budget analysts concede it has negatively impacted government revenue. Trump, though, has vowed to extend them if he’s in office.

Yet square this circle for us: How will Trump strengthen the military and achieve his other domestic priorities if he’s going to cut revenue even further? Especially with the federal government already running huge deficits. Even hardline Republicans might balk at the spending cuts Trump would need.

3) The debt limit. Thanks to Biden and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the debt limit has been suspended through Jan. 1, 2025. This raises the possibility that Congress may want to deal with the borrowing cap during the lame-duck session, depending on how the election shakes out.

Does Trump want this mess taken off his plate before the next Congress? Does Trump want to eliminate the debt ceiling once and for all? Trump discussed that when he was president.

4) How do you expect to handle Ukraine? A majority of the House GOP has fallen in line with Trump in opposing additional U.S. support for Ukraine. But early on in a new Trump presidency, he’d be faced with the issue once again. Trump has promised a quick diplomatic agreement to end the war. A large block of Republicans in both chambers, plus virtually all Democrats, still back Ukraine.

5) Are you open to an immigration deal or are you just going to start deporting people? Trump has said that he’d begin deporting millions of undocumented immigrants right away if he wins the White House. Is he serious about this? Or is Trump open to compromises that he’s floated in the past, such as beefed-up border security in exchange for some changes to the status of immigrants already in the country? This issue has come to define Trump and Republicans writ large.

Big tax news: Senate Finance Committee Democrats are set to meet next Thursday to discuss the upcoming 2025 tax debate, according to a source with knowledge of the plans. This will be a kickoff conversation for Democrats on how they want to approach the expiring Trump tax cuts. Finance Democrats will likely hold additional meetings this year.

Finance Republicans are setting up six working groups for the 2025 debate, as we scooped. House Ways and Means Committee Republicans have 10 “tax teams” already holding meetings and gathering feedback for the upcoming fight. But Democrats are taking a less public approach, and aren’t likely to set up the same sort of groups the GOP has established.

Jake Sherman, Andrew Desiderio and Laura Weiss

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