Ryan: We Must Pass Major Legislation Or GOP Will ‘Depress Turnout’ In 2018

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wis., speaks to reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday emphasized that congressional Republicans must pass major legislation or they will risk their majority in the 2018 elections.

“If we don’t do our job we will depress turnout,” Ryan told the Wisconsin State Journal. “I am frustrated as well.”

Ryan blamed inaction on the Senate, which recently failed to pass a bill to repeal Obamacare.

“We’re pretty frustrated with the slow pace of things (in the Senate), but in the House, we’ve actually done most of our agenda except for welfare reform and tax reform,” he said.

The speaker also lamented the distractions from the White House, though he did not mention President Donald Trump by name.

“There’s just been a lot of distractions out there, whether it’s Russia, or tweeting, or whatever,” Ryan told the Wisconsin State Journal.

But he then reiterated that the Senate is the main holdup when it comes to Republicans pushing their agenda.

“The problem isn’t having President Trump sign bills into law and it isn’t getting bills out of the House — the problem is getting these bills through the Senate,” he said.

Ryan said that he would like to introduce legislation with tax cuts in September, with the goal of passing the bill by the end of the year. He predicted that Congress will have an easier time passing tax cuts than Obamacare repeal.

“We had different opinions on how to advance health care reform,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal. “On tax reform, we’re largely in agreement.”

Asked about Trump’s criticism of Congress’ Russia sanctions bill and his tweets blaming Congress for a poor relationship with Russia, Ryan said, “We think Russia deserved the sanctions that we passed.”

“Russia can improve our relationship if they stop meddling in our elections,” he added.