Last week, Republicans left Washington, D.C., for their retreat in Philadelphia.
During the retreat, House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI-R) outlined a packed legislative agenda for this year in which Republicans would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act by April, fund Donald Trump’s border wall, and approve a sweeping tax reform package by August.
During the first major session of the gathering, Ryan pulled out a chart he said was inspired by President Trump, a builder. It showed three horizontal lines of work the Senate, the House and the White House would complete over the course of the first 200 days of the Trump administration. Ryan said he shared the chart with Trump, who gave both his approval and an assurance that he would use his bully pulpit to corral needed votes or blunt opposition. That prompted a standing ovation and cheers.
Up first on the to-do list, unsurprisingly, was repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Ryan said he’d like to pass the fast-track repeal bill by March or April. He talked about three parts of the process:
- Legislation passed by Congress
- Administrative actions to stabilize the insurance market, led by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, assuming he is confirmed
- Any needed replacement legislation, which would need Democratic support to pass the Senate’s 60-vote threshold.
After tackling the replacement of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans will turn to tax reform, which Ryan estimated would take from April through August, when lawmakers break for the summer.
According to two sources in the room, Ryan said the tax package would be “revenue neutral,” essentially paying for itself and not adding to the deficit. He dismissed the idea of a major tax cut that is not paid for. According to source, Ryan dismissed suggestions that Congress would pass tax cuts that aren’t paid for — an apparent response that some Trump administration officials were considering tax cuts without corresponding revenue increases or spending cuts.
Ryan said Congress would also pass an appropriations supplemental bill to bolster the border and national security. While he did not say mention a wall specifically, GOP leadership has been working on a plan to fund Trump's physical barrier or fence through the appropriations process.