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Inside the GOP’s attempt to coordinate 2025 with Trump

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After months of struggle (and several years of divisions), congressional Republicans are spending this week trying to coordinate clear priorities ahead of the November election and 2025 — and Donald Trump is at the center of it all.

The former president will speak with Republicans in both the House and the Senate in two separate meetings on Thursday. One day before that, Speaker Mike Johnson will head to the Senate to debate a future legislative agenda in a potential Republican-controlled Washington.

“We are all on the same team and we need to be united as we move into the fall. These are consequential elections. To me, it’s sort of natural,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). She said she wants to hear how Trump is “going to unite us and what issues we’re going to talk about.”

A major caveat here: The sudden burst of coordination is unlikely to produce any immediate, substantive result. Johnson’s talks with Senate Republicans are mainly meant to get both chambers on the same page if Trump wins back the White House this November and they can manage to take both chambers of Congress.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said this week’s meetings will “look at how the two campaigns, the presidential campaign and the Senate campaigns, can coordinate, work together and try and get optimized, get the best outcome we can.”

The reconciliation game: Johnson’s main focus, for now, is what legislative priorities Republicans could pass through so-called budget reconciliation. That allows some legislation to pass the Senate with a simple majority, and it would be the GOP’s main vehicle to enact policies like preserving the expiring Trump-era tax cuts on party-line votes — if they can win big in November.

“We’re not assuming that there will or won’t be reconciliation,” said Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). “We’re just looking at all of the issues so that we’re just informed – so that when we know what the outcome of the elections are, then we can be better prepared to act that time.”

Reality check: The meeting with Trump is not exactly going to heal divisions regarding the former president. While some senators have kept relatively quiet about their objections to his nomination, a handful have openly expressed their distaste for their party’s presumptive GOP standard-bearer.

For example: Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) has said he won’t vote for Trump. His office declined to comment on whether he’ll attend Thursday’s meeting.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she won’t be attending either, citing a “conflict.”

Others who joined her in voting to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial — including Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), have unsurprisingly declined to endorse him this cycle.

Romney and Cassidy both said their attendance will depend on their schedules. Collins brushed off a question about attending and said she needed to go vote.

But a handful of Senate Republicans who haven’t formally endorsed Trump yet will be going. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) plans to attend the meeting, per a spokesperson. He also said in an interview that it’s fine to describe him as endorsing Trump: “He’s our nominee, so I support him. Use whatever word you want to use. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he gets elected.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who’s also not yet endorsed Trump, said he’s “probably” going to the meeting. Asked if he plans to endorse Trump, Paul said he needs to “have some conversations with him first.”

Notably, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — a longtime Trump skeptic who tepidly endorsed the former president earlier this year — will attend the Thursday meeting. The two still have an icy relationship, dating back to McConnell saying President Joe Biden had won the 2020 election.

Of the 10 House GOP members who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, only two remain in office. Rep. Dan Newhouse (Wash.) plans to attend the meeting Thursday, his office confirmed. A spokesperson for the other remaining GOP member who voted for impeachment, Rep. David Valadao (Calif.), didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Some Republicans said the flurry of sitdowns isn’t part of some grand plan, but they hoped it would serve to lay out a vision ahead of November and into next year.

“I really think it’s just coincidence that they had Speaker Johnson come in and I think President Trump decided to come in as well. But I do think it has the effect of getting us focused as a united party,” said Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), who is on the short list for Trump’s vice presidential pick.