PHILADELPHIA — Just hours ahead of their meeting with President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan insisted that the new president and his Republican conference are “on the same page” on policy and priorities.
“We are on the same page with the administration and we actually worked with the administration on the timetable and legislative agenda we have with 2017,” Ryan told reporters here at the annual Republican retreat.
Ryan’s assurance of unity comes as Republicans gather for their annual retreat, focused on legislation and hearing more details about how to move their aggressive agenda of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act passing and tax reform.
But Trump has caught Republican members of Congress off-guard in some instances, forcing them to react to Trump’s new executive orders or obsessions over his popularity, including his inauguration crowd size, and the debunked claim that three to five million people voted illegally in last fall's election.
After a leaked proposal circulated that indicated Trump was considering re-evaluating torture policy, Ryan emphatically said, “torture’s not legal.”
“I think the director of the CIA has made it clear he’s going to follow the law,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said.
One area where Trump has helped to mold the congressional agenda is on the border wall along Mexico. Trump issued an executive order Wednesday that would propel its progress.
Ryan said that he would expect an emergency funding proposal from the White House this spring that would cost up to $15 billion to pay for the continued construction of the wall.
Neither Ryan nor McConnell answered if they’d demand if the funding be paid for. If it’s not paid for by cutting other programs or raising revenue, it would add to the national debt.
Ryan also defended Trump’s aggressive use of executive orders in his first week. The president was “restoring the proper balance,” Ryan said.
He added: “This is going to be an unconventional presidency.”