US president Donald Trump has described having some “incredible meetings” with Republicans at Camp David as they ready their 2018 legislative agenda.
He said the group, including congressional leaders and Cabinet members, discussed a variety of topics, from national security and infrastructure to the military and the budget. Mr Trump said: “We are very well prepared for the coming year. We finished very strong.”
He is hoping to work out a deal with Democrats that may include granting legal status to about 800,000 young immigrants temporarily shielded from deportation under an Obama-era programme known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
He said: “It’s something certainly that I’d like to see happen.” Mr Trump also wants to address the problem of drugs “pouring into this country and how to stop it”. He cited opioids and “drugs in the traditional sense”.
Mr Trump said he will no longer campaign for insurgents challenging incumbent Republican members of Congress. He said he is planning a robust schedule of campaigning ahead of the 2018 midterm elections – including primary elections.
Mr Trump said he will be “very involved” with both House and Senate races and campaign for incumbents as well as “anybody else that has my kind of thinking”. After a stinging GOP loss in Alabama, Mr Trump said he will not support challengers, declaring: “I don’t see that happening.”
He supported Roy Moore, who lost the recent Alabama special election, handing Democrats another seat in the Senate. Mr Trump said he needed more Republicans in office to get his agenda passed.
Mr Trump said he would not sign legislation protecting hundreds of thousands of young people brought to the country illegally as children unless Congress agrees to overhaul the legal immigration system.
He said any deal must include an overhaul of the family-based immigration system as well as an end to the diversity visa lottery, which draws immigrants from under-represented parts of the world.
That is in addition to funding for his promised southern border wall and added border security.
Mr Trump said he thinks Democrats will be on board with the plan, despite their concerns.
He has given Congress until March to come up with legislation to protect hundreds of thousands of young people shielded from deportation and given the right to work under Daca.
Trump said: “We all want Daca to happen, but we also want great security for our country.”