House Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday that Republicans will not attach an immigration deal to a must-pass spending bill ahead of next week's deadline and predicted there would be no government shutdown.
Ryan, who had previously said he wanted to address entitlement reform in 2018, also described that idea as more of a "wish list" item. "I don't see us tackling it this year," he said at a WisPolitics Event at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Paul Ryan's comments come seven days before the government is set to shut down
On entitlement reform, the Wisconsin Republican said, 'I don't see us tackling it this year'
His comments about a spending deal come seven days before the government is set to shut down unless Republicans pass a bill to keep it open. It's unclear whether they have enough votes within their own party to pass it. If not, they will need votes from Democrats, who are insisting the bill includes a solution to the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
"We have to keep those separate because that's just not good government, just lopping all this stuff together," he said. "I think people are attaching them in their minds as far as leverage is concerned, but they won't be technically attached as far as legislation is concerned."
Bipartisan negotiations hit a snag after President Donald Trump on Thursday rejected an agreement reached by a group of six senators. And the President further complicated things Thursday when he made highly incendiary comments about immigrants from Haiti and countries in Africa, which have inflamed and brought criticism from many in Trump's own party.
Ryan on Friday called the comments "unfortunate" and "unhelpful" but argued negotiations for a deal regarding the DACA program must continue, even if it's not resolved by the January 19 spending deal deadline. "We just have to get it done," he said.
The speaker said the spending legislation to keep the government open would be another short-term bill to give lawmakers more time to hash out final details. He said he's confident they will reach a long-term spending agreement at some point, even if he can't say when. "I think we'll get a down payment on some of these problems and keep fighting, keep working to get the rest of it done."
Ryan said he didn't think there would be a government shutdown, adding that Republicans and Democrats are making progress on spending caps.
Ryan also conceded that House Republicans would not aggressively pursue entitlement reform this year, despite saying last month it was on the agenda. He was not on the same page, however, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who rejected the idea just before Christmas.
Just days after Ryan, McConnell and other congressional leaders met with Trump at Camp David to discuss the legislative year, Ryan said Friday that entitlement reform was no longer on his list, saying there wouldn't be enough bipartisan support for the idea.
"You're going to have to find bipartisan consensus to fix these thorny long-term problems, and we don't have that right now," he said.