Trump, Ryan talk next steps for Obamacare repeal
President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke at the White House Thursday after the House pushed through a health care bill, the first step to repealing the Affordable Care Act.
The White House
Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, won the job after conservatives helped to end the tenure of John Boehner, his predecessor, and vetoed heir apparent Kevin McCarthy, then and now House majority leader.
Trump’s deal with Democratic congressional leaders to bundle a three-month extension of the federal budget and the debt limit increase with relief for Hurricane Harvey victims was a shock. An hour before the agreement was reached, Ryan said Democrats’ plans for such a short-term deal on the debt limit was “ridiculous:”
But what, conservatives asked, was Ryan’s plan in the first place?
“What was the leadership’s plan for raising the debt ceiling. Was there a plan?” Meadows asked Thursday.
Ryan said Hurricane Harvey, which unleashed severe flooding in Houston and other parts of Texas and Louisiana, as well as the pending threat to Florida from Hurricane Irma, changed “the entire calculation” for dealing with the debt ceiling and eliminated any extra time House leaders had to deal with the issue. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s available cash may run out by Friday.
“So the president made a game call (Wednesday) that he thought it is in our country’s interest to have bipartisan support in a bipartisan package to deal with these ongoing hurricane disasters,” Ryan said.
But many Republicans are balking at voting for the package, approved 80-17 by the Senate on Thursday, which included $15 billion in hurricane aid.
About 100 members of the Republican Study Committee, another conservative House group, plan to vote no on the agreement unless there are conservative changes included, said Walker. The bill is still expected to pass, since it is likely to win support from most of the 194 Democrats and enough of the other 140 Republicans.
Walker, chairman of the study committee, sent Ryan a letter outlining 19 potential add-ons to the deal, including repealing Obamacare, changes in the National Flood Insurance Program and making the House’s ban on earmarks, or special local projects inserted into spending bills, permanent.
Ryan did have his conservative defenders.
“Paul Ryan’s heart’s in the right place but his role as speaker is herding a lot of cats,” said Rep. Ralph Norman, a South Carolina Republican.
Norman said he had no problem with Ryan remaining speaker, but conservative angst about the speaker is not going away.
“I think there’s a lot of of general unrest about conservative priorities in this Congress. You’re not getting cover from the White House and it makes it tough for existing congressional leadership. I get it,” said Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C. “So I think there are a number of folks who are increasingly grumbling about that, but it’s not at a boiling point.”