On January 27th, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan sat down with Politico Playbook to outline Congressional Republicans’ policy agenda. Following the Republican retreat in Philadelphia, which featured a speech from the new president, and a flurry of executive orders, Paul Ryan launched what he called an “ambitious” 20- day agenda. The agenda which was presented to Republicans at the retreat contains deadline specific issues, such as the April CR expiration and policy promises like repealing and replacing Obamacare. Ryan did say they anticipated a funding supplement to come from the White House for the Southern border wall, which he referred to as an immediate concern of national security.
Tax reform was another hot topic, which during the discussion Ryan tied back to a retooling of U.S. trade policies citing the border adjustment tax as a possible offset. The Speaker also addressed Republicans’ plan for repealing and replacing Obamacare, which he stated the legislation should be accomplished within 2017, but that the policy enacting would take years to enact. But he stressed the importance of repealing and replacing quickly citing it as a “rescue mission.”
Speaker Ryan touched on the vacant Supreme Court seat saying he expects a Supreme Court pick to be announced this coming week and that congressional Republicans “like [Trump’s] list.” When asked about Vice President Mike Pence’s new role, Speaker Ryan expressed confidence in Pence, anticipating him be a strong Vice President because his knowledge of the system and his prior history with many members brings expertise to the White House.
The topic of torture and Russian sanctions was also queried. Speaker Ryan reiterated that torture is illegal and not a flexible standard for the United States. He also supported Senator John McCain who called for the Russian sanctions to remain, calling the sanctions “overdue,” despite Trump floating possible easing. In a bipartisan note, the Speaker did state that criminal justice reform is on the agenda and would be done with action from both sides to the aisle.
When asked by an audience member about the number of executive actions being directed form the White House, Ryan sresponded that they were intended to remove “bad” polices installed by the Obama Administration. He stated he expects those actions would be accompanied by congressional action and highlighted the eventual action Congress would do under the Congressional Review Act. Overall, Speaker Ryan put forward what he expects Congress to move on in the next 200 days, which will include several of President Trump’s campaign promises and an ambitious list of policy goals for Republicans.