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McConnell says GOP is "on the same page" on tax reform amid Trump, Corker feud

Senate Republicans are urging party unity as President Trump's visit to Capitol Hill to push tax reform appeared to be overshadowed by his ongoing feud with Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. 

Mr. Trump arrived at the Capitol to lunch with GOP senators after his most recent public sparring with Corker. The senator said just hours before the lunch that Mr. Trump will be remembered for "the debasing of our nation," and criticized the president as not being a role model for children. 

But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sidestepped the president's ongoing spat, telling reporters that he didn't have "an observation" on the lawmakers' disputes, and instead focused on the GOP's "cohesion."

"We're here to try to accomplish things for the American people, we're all on the same page," said McConnell. 

He added, "If there's anything all Republicans think is important to the country and to our party, it is comprehensive tax reform."

Pressed several times on where he stood on the Trump-Corker argument, he pivoted again, adding, "The issue itself brings about great unity among our members and so we're concentrating on the agenda we have for the American people and the president shares that agenda."

He said that the party "intends to achieve what we set out to achieve by the end of the year."

"We're going to concentrate on what our agenda is and not any of these other distractions that you all may be interested in," said McConnell of the Corker-Trump feud.

He referred to the dispute as "a lot of noise", sidestepping yet again by saying Republicans were instead "concentrating on the agenda the American people need."

While McConnell's Republican colleagues Sens. Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham touted the tax meeting as "fantastic" and "lighthearted," Corker himself said little about the lunch meeting -- only that the topic of tax reform "barely came up."

McConnell and Trump had a joint news conference last week to announce they had smoothed things over and to underscore their common focus on passing a tax overhaul.

The tax plan crafted by Trump and Republican leaders calls for steep tax cuts for corporations and potentially for individuals. It would double the standard deduction used by most Americans, shrink the number of tax brackets from seven to three or four, and repeal inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates. But crucial details of the plan have yet to be worked out, notably what income levels would fit with each tax bracket. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the House aims to pass their tax bill by Thanksgiving, though he said the Senate would take longer to pass its version.

Follow along for live updates below:


Graham, McCain talk lunch details

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called the president's demeanor "upbeat, lighthearted and funny" at Tuesday's lunch. He told reporters on the Hill that the group talked about "how they needed to be a team."

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain of Arizona wouldn't provide details from his perspective of the lunch. He told reporters that he was "optimistic" about passing tax reform, but was "not sure they'll pas it by the end of the year."

Corker says "tax reform barely came up" at policy lunch

Sen. Bob Corker told reporters that Tuesday's lunch was "delicious"  but that the issue of tax reform "barely came up" in the president's conversations.

He told reporters at the Capitol that he "didn't partake" in the conversation at the lunch, but that he "normally" doesn't

McConnell says his obligation is achieving "cohesion" among GOP 

The Majority Leader told reporters that Republicans have been looking for an opportunity "for years" to achieve tax reform and they now have a president who will sign it. 

"We're going to concentrate on what our agenda is and not any of these other distractions that you all may be interested in," said McConnell of the Corker-Trump feud.

He referred to the dispute as "a lot of noise", sidestepping yet again by saying Republicans were "concentrating on the agenda the American people need."

McConnell: "We're all on the same page" on tax reform

The Majority Leader sidestepped the president's ongoing spat with Senator Bob Corker, telling reporters that he didn't have "an observation" on the lawmakers' disputes. 

"We're here to try to accomplish things for the American people , we're all on the same page," he added. 

McConnell reiterated the party's "cohesion", saying that, "If there anything all Republicans think is important to the country and to our party is comprehensive tax reform."

He added, "The issue itself brings about great unity among our members and so were concentrating on the agenda we have for the American people and the president shares that agenda."

McConnell said that the party "intends to achieve what we set out to achieve by the end of the year."

Thune: Middle income families have had a tough time

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said the president focused much of his conversation at the policy lunch on "what we can do to help ordinary americans middle income families improve their economic standing, that's what the focus of tax reform is about."

He added, "We're on on tax reform because it's unacceptable that half of families say they're living pay check to pay check." He said that Democrats ought to "join hands" and "get this tax bill across the finish line."

McConnell "hopeful" House will pass tax bill on Wednesday 

He said that the president also spoke about confirming a list of district judges as well as his forthcoming announcement on the opioid epidemic at today's lunch.

"We have a national epidemic of historic proportions and the administration has correctly seized on this issue," added McConnell. 

Leader McConnell addresses the press following lunch with president

"We had the president at lunch today and he went over all the items the administration has been working on much of which I agree with him, the administration hadn't gotten nearly enough credit for," said McConnell.

Trump departs lunch with no remarks 

The president leaves the Capitol with a wave to reporters. The presidential motorcade pulls away from the Capitol as Mr. Trump heads back to the White House for the day. 

Senators depart policy lunch

Republicans depart their Senate policy lunch with the president. Asked how the meeting went, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, told reporters, "it went great, very upbeat." His colleague, Sen. Tim Scott called it "fantastic"

Senators talk policy lunch details

When asked if any clarification on what exactly will appear in the Republicans revived health care bill was expected to come out of Tuesday's policy lunch, Senator Roger Wicker R-Mississippi, told reporters that Mr. Trump was focusing on the "task at hand which is getting the tax bill to his desk."

"It's a great step that the speaker wants to take up which the Senate passed as it is. I think that moves us three weeks ahead of schedule," added Wicker. 

Trump walks through Capitol hallway with Sen. McConnell

The president arrives and escorted by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as reporters shout questions. The two are set to meet briefly before they head to Senate policy lunches to greet other Republicans. 

Meanwhile, a protester shouted and threw what appeared to be Russian flags at Mr. Trump, screaming "Trump is treason!" and "We should be talking about treason not tax cuts!"

CBS News' Nancy Cordes reports that the man has been identified as Ryan Clayton of the Americans Take Action group. Clayton made a similar disturbance at the Capitol when he threw a large Russian flag in the way of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump's son-in-law, back in July when he met with Senate Intelligence investigators as part of their ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. 

Trump motorcade arrives on Hill

Police motorcycles escorted the presidential motorcade to the Capitol ahead of Mr. Trump's lunch visit with GOP senators.  

Trump to depart White House momentarily 

President Trump is slated to depart the White House for his lunch on the Hill with fellow Republicans where he's expected to push his administration's tax plan. 

Before the policy lunch, Mr. Trump is expected to briefly meet with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his office.  

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