Politics

Ryan on White House Meeting: Getting Military Funded on Time Primary Concern

Speaker declines to commit to Trump ultimately getting $5 billion for border wall

Speaker Paul D. Ryan says the primary government funding concern is getting the military funded on time and on budget. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan appeared on President Donald Trump’s favorite cable TV news show Wednesday morning to talk about their scheduled meeting at the White House later that day.

“We’re going to talk to him about a whole slew of issues, but mainly about how to get this appropriations process back on track so at the end of the year we don’t have one giant omnibus appropriations bill. No one wants that,” Ryan said on “Fox & Friends.”

Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House at 11:30 a.m.

The hosts of the show asked Ryan if he would commit to Trump that he’d get $5 billion in funding for his border wall. Ryan avoided providing such a commitment, saying that is the number that the House appropriators have proposed based on the administration’s revised request and “that’s working through the system.”

While Trump may be inclined to spend the meeting on the border wall and items he views as a priority, Ryan — knowing the president was likely watching — provided a more focused and perhaps achievable goal. 

Watch: Odds of a Government Shutdown Tick Up as House Leaves for Recess With Unfinished Business

“We really just want to get the military funded on time, on budget, on schedule this year, and that’s the primary concern,” the speaker said, referring to the defense appropriations bill. On schedule would mean before the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

The House has passed its version and the Senate is working on getting its version to the floor as soon as next week. The problem is the House passed defense funding as a standalone and the Senate is planning to package its version with the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill to draw Democratic support. 

Ryan suggested that there is a working plan for passing appropriations bills that avoids a giant omnibus package becoming the final product. 

“We want to pass these separate appropriations bills, so we have a plan to do that,” he said, but did not provide details. 

So far the House and Senate have been passing small packages of spending bills, with exception of the House defense measure. 

Ryan noted the Senate’s participation as reason for optimism that an omnibus can be avoided. 

“This year hopefully will be different because we have the Senate actually doing appropriations this year,” he said.

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