Republicans Can’t Keep Their Story Straight On Trump’s Debt Ceiling Knifing

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., speaks about Harvey relief efforts after a meeting with House Republicans, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
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The morning after news broke that President Donald Trump had sided with Democrats over the staunch objections of Republicans on a short-term deal to raise the debt ceiling, fund the government, and secure aid for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, Republicans on Capitol Hill are having trouble sticking to the same story on why their party’s leader threw them under the bus.

When a New York Times reporter noted Thursday morning that Trump had cut the deal for a three-month extension mere hours after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) publicly called that option “ridiculous,” Ryan deadpanned: “Yeah, I sort of noticed that.”

He then launched into his version of Republicans’ “we weren’t rolled” spin, insisting that Trump’s noble goal was getting aid to hurricane victims as quickly as possible.

“My read of the moment and the situation is that the president believes, and I completely understand this, that we have two hurricanes hitting us right now—we’re still in the beginning of recovering from Harvey, Irma is hitting us now—and what the president didn’t want to have some partisan fight in the middle of this national crisis,” he said. “He wanted to have a bipartisan response and not a food fight. Basically, that’s what I believe his motivation was.”

Though he had no harsh words for Trump, Ryan added that he disagreed with the deal he struck with Democratic leaders. “I personally think it’s bad for the credit markets to have these short-term extensions,” he said.

Across town, at a simultaneous breakfast with reporters, the leaders of the House’s far-right Freedom Caucus offered a different version of the spin, saying Trump quickly cut a deal with Democrats in order to “myopically focus on trying to get tax reform.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.
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