Ryan says budget process ‘stinks,’ but deal expected to pass
By Ian Swanson and Scott Wong – 10/27/15 09:36 AM EDT
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is distancing himself from a pending budget deal ahead of his expected election this week as Speaker.
Ryan told CNN’s Manu Raju he doesn’t have a position yet on the deal negotiated by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the man he is likely to succeed.
“I’m reserving judgment on this agreement because, quite frankly, I haven’t seen it yet on paper,” Ryan said of the budget bill, which was posted late Monday night.
But Ryan criticized how the deal to extend the government’s borrowing limit and increase spending came together, saying “this process stinks” in the interview televised on CNN.
“Under new management, we’re not going to do business like this,” he said. “As a conference, we should have been meeting months ago to develop a strategy on this.”
Despite the chilly reception from Ryan, all signs Tuesday morning indicated that the deal is likely to pass both Congress.
“I think every Democrat will vote for it and there will be enough Republicans in the conference that ultimately the deal will be passed. That doesn’t mean I agree with it,” said Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), a staunch House conservative.
Two House Freedom Caucus members told The Hill as many as 100 House Republicans would vote for the deal, a combination of defense hawks and leadership allies.
“It will be a big bipartisan vote,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told The Hill.
Still, the politics of the deal are tough for Ryan.
Congress faces a Nov. 3 deadline to raise the debt ceiling and a Dec. 11 deadline to fund the government. If the budget deal falls apart, Ryan could face a major crisis the moment he takes the gavel.
At a closed-door House GOP conference meeting on Monday night, Ryan didn’t respond to a question from Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fla.) about what he thought of the deal, according to a source in the room.
Clawson, a former business executive, told his colleagues that when he left his company he knew better than to make decisions that would harm his successor.
Then, Clawson turned to Ryan and asked him what he thought of the deal. The incoming Speaker didn’t respond.
“He trashed the plan. Ryan didn’t take the bait,” said a second lawmaker at the meeting. “Oh, it was hot!”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a member of the Freedom Caucus who helped push Boehner out of Congress, upped the pressure on Ryan, issuing a statement Wednesday calling for all Speaker candidates to oppose the deal.
“Anyone who supports this legislation is complicit in supporting ‘the way things are’ in Washington. … Therefore I call on all candidates running for Speaker of the House to oppose this legislation and go on record showing they do not support this approach to governing,” Meadows said in a statement.
Boehner, holding what could be his final press conference as Speaker, defended the pact on Tuesday morning.
“Listen, you got a bipartisan agreement in a town that isn’t know for a lot of bipartisanship,” Boehner said. “You’re going to see bricks flying from those that don’t like the fact that there’s a bipartisan agreement.”
“There isn’t any reason why a member should vote against it,” he added.
The House could vote on the budget deal as early as Wednesday — the same day Republicans are expected to choose Ryan as their next Speaker in a closed-door meeting. The full House is expected to vote for Ryan as Speaker later in the week.
Many Republicans are likely to vote against the budget deal, which Boehner negotiated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Democratic leaders and the White House.
Emerging from a meeting of House Republicans Tuesday morning, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala) told reporters he will not support it.
It’s “a very unfortunate way to run a democracy,” he said.
But House Democrats are beginning to line up behind the proposal, despite initial skepticism about the changes to Social Security and Medicare it contains.
After gathering Tuesday morning in the Capitol with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who helped negotiate the agreement, even the most liberal lawmakers suggested they would back the proposal.
“My biggest concern was how it was going to treat Social Security disability,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, “and the questions I got answered so far have allayed some of my concerns.
“So I’m going to keep studying it,” he added, “but at this point I don’t have any fire alarms going off.”
Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), senior Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, didn’t hesitate a moment when asked if he’ll support the deal.
“Yes,” he said. “Because we worked hard on it.”
The proposal is also getting buy-in from Senate Democrats.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) threw his support behind the plan, saying it would “address priorities that help the middle class and helps us avoid a major threat to jobs and the general economy.”
“Democrats and Republicans have come to a responsible agreement to put the needs of our nation above the Republicans’ partisan agenda,” Reid said.
The drumbeat of support is perhaps loudest from the White House, where an official said the two-year agreement passes President Obama’s “key tests” of lifting spending caps, known as sequestration, while shielding Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries from “harmful cuts.”
“We urge members of Congress from both parties to take the next step and pass a budget based on this agreement,” the official said.
This story was updated at 12:32 p.m. Alexander Bolton, Mike Lillis, Jordain Carney and Jordan Fabian contributed.