WASHINGTON ― It’s not that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has a problem with President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and foreign nationals. He just didn’t like how it all came together and was implemented.
“It’s regrettable that there was some confusion on the rollout of this,” Ryan told reporters on Tuesday. “No one wanted to see people with green cards or special immigrant visas like translators get caught up in all of this.”
Ryan went on to say that yes, the implementation was confusing, but he’s “pleased and confident” after a long talk with Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly that, going forward, the Trump administration would consult with congressional leaders on similar executive orders.
The Wisconsin Republican said he supports the idea of the refugee pause, and he backed the president’s authority for issuing this executive order.
“There is nothing wrong with taking a pause and making sure we have the proper vetting standards in place,” Ryan said.
The speaker did not address language in the executive order that gives non-Muslim refugees preferential treatment. But his overarching support for the order suggests he sees no problem with it, even though he spoke out forcefully last year against religious tests when Trump proposed banning all Muslims from entering the United States.
Ryan didn’t seem to see the parallels between that proposal and the current executive order. Instead, he compared Trump’s actions to an amendment signed by President Barack Obama on the Visa Waiver Program, which restricted individuals from the seven countries included in Trump’s ban from coming to the U.S. without a visa.
Ryan also compared Trump’s measure to a bill the House passed less than a week after terrorist attacks in Paris, aimed at limiting refugee resettlement from Syria and Iraq. That bill was far narrower than Trump’s order. It did not suspend refugee resettlement from all countries or block all Syrian and Iraqi refugees. But it did add requirements to the approval process meant to discourage U.S. officials from allowing those individuals into the country.
Elise Foley contributed to this report.