- Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters
House Speaker Paul Ryan said President Donald Trump’s decision to side with Democratic leaders on a three-month debt ceiling increase was an attempt to have “a bipartisan moment for the country.”
In a live interview Thursday morning with The New York Times, Ryan shrugged off the notion that Trump was being dismissive of Republicans, instead saying his “read of the moment” was that it was an attempt to unite the country while hurricanes are pummeling parts of the US.
“What the president didn’t wanna do is have some partisan fight in the middle of the response to this,” Ryan said. “He wanted to make sure that in this moment of national crisis where our country’s getting hit by two horrible hurricanes, that he wanted to have a bipartisan response and not a food fight on the timing of the debt limit attached to this bill.”
However, Ryan added that he still believes the deal for a three-month debt ceiling increase is misguided.
“I personally believe for credit markets sake, we should have longer extensions of these – I just don’t think it’s good for the credit markets to have these short term debt extensions,” he said. “I think that government agency funding is one thing, but the credit markets I think is a different thing.”
In a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, Trump bucked his own top aides as well as both Republican leaders in Congress, instead siding with the Democrats’ pitch over multiple attempts to compromise. According to multiple reported accounts of the meeting, Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pitched an 18-month increase, then a six-month plan in an effort to compromise. Trump overruled them all, instead siding with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
“We had a very good meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One. “We agreed to a three-month extension on debt ceiling, which they consider to be sacred – very important – always we’ll agree on debt ceiling automatically because of the importance of it.”
Hours prior to the White House meeting, Ryan said at a press conference that the Democrats’ plan was “playing politics.”
“I think that’s ridiculous and disgraceful that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment when we have fellow citizens in need,” he said.
The House passed a $7.85 billion aid package for Hurricane Harvey on Wednesday, which the Senate is slated to attach to the three-month debt increase later this week.