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Ryan predicts debt limit hike, short-term spending bill

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Ryan predicts debt limit hike, short-term spending bill

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that he expects Congress will approve a short-term government spending package next month given the time crunch when lawmakers return to Washington.

The House passed a spending bill in late July primarily providing funds to national security programs for the next fiscal year. It is expected to work on the remaining measures to fund the federal government when lawmakers return from recess the first week of September.

But Ryan doesn’t think the Senate will have enough time to clear each of the spending bills passed by the House before current funding expires at the end of September. He predicted that the backlog of Trump administration nominations would clog up the Senate’s time for most of the month.

“It will take time for the Senate to process these bills. So I would absolutely anticipate we’re going to have to have an extension so that we can process all these bills,” Ryan told CNBC.

That could mean a short-term extension, such as for a few months, to ensure the government doesn’t shut down at the end of September.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has also said that the U.S. will hit the debt limit by Sept. 29, one day before the government funding deadline. 

President Trump earlier Thursday blamed GOP leaders for what he described as a “mess” over the debt limit. Trump said he requested that Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tie the debt limit increase to a bill reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Reports emerged over the summer floating the idea, but it ultimately didn’t come to fruition before lawmakers left for the August recess.

Ryan brushed aside Trump’s tweet — “I don’t really take it as going after me” — and expressed confidence that Congress would act on the debt limit before the deadline.

“I’m really not that worried about this,” Ryan said on CNBC. “We will pass a debt limit increase before we hit the debt limit, plenty of options in front of us. That one just wasn’t available for us.”

Conservatives have long pushed for accompanying spending cuts with a debt limit increase. Ryan didn’t rule out possibilities when asked if the options included a “clean” debt limit increase without preconditions.

“I’m not going to negotiate to the media, but we have a lot of options in front of us,” Ryan said.

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