By Ian Mason
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke to reporters Wednesday about the progress House Republicans have made during President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office without a major legislative accomplishment in the bag.
The Speaker said:
Since President Trump took office, this Congress has sent 29 bills to his desk. That is the most for a president’s first 100 days in office since 1949. Nearly half of these measures are measures to take excessive regulations off the books so we can grow this economy. After years of workers and industries bracing for the next regulatory onslaught,” he added, touting a slew of small bills that use authority from the Congressional Review Act override individual rules or regulations issued by federal agencies. Ryan claimed these fixes would save the economy $67 billion. Cutting back on harmful and unnecessary administrative state regulations was a major theme of Republican campaigning in 2016.
Ryan’s remarks glazed over the stalled GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. “We will continue to work to keep our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, so that we can lower costs and create more choices for families,” he said. Ryan’s own attempt to do so, the “American Health Care Act (AHCA),” had to be withdrawn last month after failing to gain enough support, despite ringing endorsements from both Ryan and President Trump.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) indicated later Wednesday that he and the Freedom Caucus — comprised of very conservative House Republicans — would support a version of the AHCA with the key addition of the so-called “MacArthur Amendment,” a proposal from the “Tuesday Group” credited to moderate Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ). The Freedom Caucus was seen as instrumental in the defeat of the first bill. Conservative non-profits Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, also an obstacle in the March attempt, signaled they too would support this version as amended.
Ryan, for his part, expressed his support for the same amendment when asked by reporters. He claimed its approach to allowing states to customize their risk polls would help “lower premiums and protect people with preexisting conditions.”
“That’s exactly at the heart of what the MacArthur Amendment does, and I think it helps us get to consensus,” he said.
Speaker Ryan did discuss efforts at tax reform, something he had previously indicated would be undertaken only after a health care bill had been passed. In response to a question Wednesday, Ryan claimed a tax reform bill would be brought to the floor “as soon as possible.”
On the impending budget bill, which has come under criticism as rumors suggest it will forego funding President Trump’s signature border wall while leaving in place Planned Parenthood funding, Ryan said, “Now it’s just getting down to the final details … we want to get this done on time.”