Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) decried Democratic leaders' plans to tie funding for a debt ceiling increase and Hurricane Harvey relief to Democratic legislative goals.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) made a joint statement calling for a bipartisan deal on the debt ceiling and Harvey funding that also addresses health care funding and Dreamers. Ryan said it would be "ridiculous and disgraceful" for Democrats to leverage the debt ceiling for their agenda when Harvey caused historic damage and Hurricane Irma threatens to strike Florida.
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"I think that's a ridiculous idea. I hope they don't mean that," Ryan said in response to a reporter's question about Democrats seeking to extract concessions. "Let's just think about this. We've got all this devastation in Texas. We've got another unprecedented hurricane about to hit Florida, and they want to play politics with the debt ceiling?"
Ryan said Democratic politicking on emergency efforts could hurt citizens affected by Harvey and in the path of Irma.
"I think that is ridiculous and disgraceful that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment when we have fellow citizens in need to respond to these hurricanes so that we do not strand them," Ryan added. "I think what the leaders, you just described, proposed is unworkable, and it could put in jeopardy the kind of hurricane response we need to have."
Ryan referred to the imminent threat of Irma that could drain already stretched FEMA resources, and he called on Democrats not to hold up the response efforts.
"Many of us got the calls from the administration OMB who said FEMA is moving so fast that we're running out of money as early as Friday to Tuesday," Ryan said. "We've got to make sure that we have the legal authority to go out and be able to put money back into FEMA so we can respond to these hurricanes, not to mention the fact that we already have to start prepositioning for the fact Irma is about to hit Florida, and to play politics with the debt ceiling like Schumer and Pelosi apparently are doing, I don't think is a good idea."
Ryan also responded to a question about whether he could force a budget through without Democratic support, saying it would be impossible without Democratic cooperation.
"This takes 60 votes in the Senate," Ryan said. "What the president doesn't want to do is give more leverage where it shouldn't occur on the debt ceiling."
"If this was majority-only vote, we could do what you are saying, but it's not a majority vote," Ryan added.