POLITICS

Paul Ryan Says Government Won't Shut Down Because Republicans Are In Control

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is confident there will be no government shutdown this fall because Republicans are in charge on Capitol Hill, he said Friday.

"I’m not worried about that because we control both sides of the rotunda, the House and the Senate," Ryan, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a briefing with reporters.

Ryan is optimistic despite the fact that the House has only passed about half of the 12 appropriations measures that are required to keep the government running through September, the Senate hasn't passed any yet, and Congress is on vacation for most of August.

Democrats in the upper chamber are blocking the funding measures there because they are angry that the GOP decided to boost military spending above levels set by the 2011 Budget Control Act and its sequestration rules, while leaving in place steep cuts to domestic programs that are Democratic priorities.

President Barack Obama has threatened to veto appropriations bills that don't deal with both military and domestic programs, and his allies in the Senate are demanding that Republicans open up a process now to resolve the impasse. Ryan managed to cut a deal with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash) two years ago, when both were chairs of their respective budget committees, that eased sequestration cuts evenly.

Neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) nor House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have suggested any willingness to do something similar this time around, and Senate Democrats are vowing to stand firm until Republicans start negotiating.

Ryan said that he thought a new version of a Ryan-Murray deal could be struck under the leadership of the current budget chairmen, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.).

"That’s a possibility. It’d be Price-Enzi," Ryan said. "Yeah. You can put things like that together."


What's the point in having spending caps if they don't enforce fiscal discipline?
Paul Ryan

But he stuck by his party's line that Congress should keep passing its regular funding bills before starting to negotiate, pointing to the Department of Defense bill that is currently being blocked.

"If they filibuster DOD approps over there in the Senate, I think it's a shame if they do that, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it," he said.

Asked if he could support raising the spending caps set in 2011's deal -- as he and Murray did in 2013 -- he didn't say no, but insisted such a move would have to be paid for in some way.

"The precedent that Patty and I set was mandatory savings in excess of discretionary add-backs to result in deficit reduction -- net deficit reduction," he said.

"These things have to be paid for," Ryan added, "What's the point in having spending caps if they don't enforce fiscal discipline?"

Asked why Republican control made him optimistic about passing appropriations bills, especially considering the poor functioning of the Senate, Ryan merely replied: "It's functioning a whole lot better than it did a year ago," when Democrats were in charge.

When Congress did shut down the government for two weeks in 2013, Republicans only controlled the House, but they got the blame because they had insisted on trying to use government funding to gut the Affordable Care Act.

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.

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