Whether it was the potential of a government shutdown or President Donald Trump suggesting that his Department of Justice erred in bring charges against two Republican congressmen just months ahead of the midterms, Speaker Paul D. Ryan is shrugging off the controversy.
Consider it part of the “no drama” strategy House GOP leaders laid out to their conference Wednesday morning.
Members leaving the meeting said their leadership wants to avoid a shutdown this fall and work with the Senate to enact as many appropriations bills as they can before the end of the month, limiting the number of agencies they’ll have to fund through a continuing resolution.
Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise head to the White House Wednesday afternoon, along with Senate GOP leaders, to discuss that funding strategy with President Donald Trump.
The speaker said he doesn’t feel the need to spend the meeting warning Trump not to provoke a government shutdown, which the president threatened to do over his immigration priorities, including funding for a border wall.
“I don’t think I have to do that,” Ryan said. “We talk all the time. This is a typical meeting that you have when you come back from a recess to go through the fall agenda. There’s really nothing exceptional about that. And we’ve had plenty of conversations about how we want to close out our agenda.”
A government shutdown “is not in anyone’s interest and [Trump] knows that,” the Wisconsin Republican added.
When asked to share some insight on his confidence given the president’s public remarks and tweets on the subject, Ryan simply said, “I think the results will prove itself.”
In his usual fashion, Ryan avoided directly criticizing the president, even when asked about a weekend tweet in which Trump suggested that his Attorney General Jeff Sessions should have had the Justice Department hold off on indictments of GOP Reps. Chris Collins of New York and Duncan Hunter of California.
“Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time,” Trump said, referring to Republicans’ ability to retain those seats in the midterms. “Good job Jeff.”
Ryan did not speak Trump’s name when responding to the question about the tweet.
“Justice is blind. Justice should be blind. ... It should have no impact on political party,” he said.
Just as Ryan shrugged off potential drama involving the president, his No. 2 McCarthy dismissed the increasingly toxic midterm climate for Republicans.
“I think this election is going to be like the weather,” the California Republican said when asked specifically about a new generic ballot question showing Democrats have a double-digit advantage over the GOP. “Yesterday you had a heat advisory in Washington. You also had a rain storm with lightning. Wait and the weather will change. Wait and that generic poll will change the next week too.”
Asked how he was confident the political weather would end up in Republicans favor come November, McCarthy acknowledged he wasn’t.
“I’m not, I’m just hoping. You want to peak at the right time,” he said chuckling.