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Newly-elected House Speaker Paul Ryan all but ended any chance of comprehensive immigration reform during the final year of President Barack Obama’s term in office.
In an interview airing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Ryan said the president has “proven himself to be untrustworthy on this issue.”
Ryan said consensus on other issues affecting immigration policy, such as border enforcement, could be possible. But because the president took executive action, comprehensive reform is off the table.
“I don’t think we can trust the president on this issue,” Ryan told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “The president has proven himself untrustworthy on this issue because he tried to unilaterally rewrite the law himself. Presidents don't write laws. Congress does.”
When asked about conservative critics who believe Ryan would be willing to work with a Democratic president on immigration reform in 2017, he replied, “I was elected Speaker of the House to unify the Republican Congress, not to dis-unify the Republican Congress. That means my job is to lead us to consensus and to, on big controversial issues, operate on that consensus.”
Last month on “Meet the Press,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, refused to call Ryan a “true conservative.” Ryan said this didn’t bother him because he has a “thick skin.”
On his new position, Ryan said, “It’s not a job I ever wanted. I liked where I was. But I really felt like our party needed to unify.” He previously served as chairman of the Budget Committee, and later led the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
With the new job comes a new office at the U.S. Capitol, one that currently smells like smoke because of former Speaker Boehner’s well-documented habit. Ryan, who is one of several members that sleeps in his office, said he and his staff are investigating ways to snuff the smell.
“They have these ozone machines, apparently, that you can detoxify the environment. But I’m going to have to work on the carpeting in here,” he said.
Sitting in his new office, Ryan said House Republicans need to start fresh by focusing on ideas.
“We have to be the alternative party,” he said. “If we don’t like what’s going on, we owe it to the people of this nation - to our constituents – a bold, specific and clear agenda, a vision, for how we would do things differently.”