House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday morning that he believes Republican President Donald Trump cut a debt ceiling deal with Democrats Wednesday because the President wanted to avoid a partisan fight as the country faced two devastating hurricanes.
It was just hours before the deal was cut that Ryan personally called the Democrats’ proposal “ridiculous” at a news conference.
“Yeah, I sort of noticed that,” Ryan said jokingly when asked about the awkward timing Thursday during an event hosted by The New York Times at Washington’s Newseum.
Ryan said he “completely understands” that Trump wanted to avoid any uncertainty for hurricane victims.
“He wanted to have a bipartisan response and not a food fight on the timing of the debt limit attached to this bill,” Ryan said. “That’s what I believe his motivation was.”
Ryan said he is sure that Trump just wanted this to be a “bipartisan moment for the country,” but added that for the sake of certainty, he still thinks that Congress should pass longer-term increases of the debt ceiling.
Ryan tried to emphasize that the deal cut Wednesday was not a reflection of his and Trump’s relationship and that on other issues like tax reform, he and the President are working very closely.
“On tax reform, he’s very, very engaged,” Ryan said.
During his talk with the Times, Ryan also outlined some more details about the future of tax reform. The House speaker reiterated his timeline on on the tax overhaul and said he expects Republicans to have a plan by the fall and a passed bill by the end of the year. Ryan also told the audience that while Trump has lobbied for a 15% corporate tax rate, he sees a more likely rate to be set at about 22% or just below that. The current corporate tax rate is 35%.
“The numbers are hard to make that work,” Ryan said of Trump’s 15% corporate tax rate goal.
In recent days, Ryan’s agenda has become more crowded complicating the timing of tax reform. On Tuesday, Trump announced that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gave young people who’d come to the US as children the chance to study and work in the country without fear of deportation. The program will end in six months, giving Ryan another controversial issue he must deal with soon.
Ryan said when it came to immigration, he would try to build consensus among his conservative ranks, but that any bill for the DACA recipients would be paired with enhanced border security.
“I’m going to put a consensus plan on the floor,” Ryan said when asked if he’d move forward with a “Dream Act.”