House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., attempted to steer the conversation on Capitol Hill back toward Republicans’ current legislative target of tax reform and away from an escalating spat between President Donald Trump and a senior GOP senator, ahead of Trump’s visit to the Capitol Tuesday afternoon.
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“I’m glad the president’s coming to lunch because I have long believed that it’s best just to settle these things in person,” Ryan said of the ongoing war of words between Trump and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. “And I hope that they can get a chance to do that.”
Corker called the president “utterly untruthful,” accused him of undermining Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and stood by his prior claim that the White House was an “adult day care center” both on Twitter and in TV appearances Tuesday morning. Trump responded via Twitter that Corker “couldn’t get elected dog catcher” and accused the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of being “incompetent” and “set[ting] the U.S. way back.”
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Ryan told reporters that he doesn’t think the dispute “changes our efforts on tax reform” because he believes Corker and Trump both ultimately share the goal to pass the plan, characterizing the effort as bigger than what’s happening in Washington. Trump tweeted his belief this morning that the senator, whom he termed a “lightweight,” “will now fight Tax Cuts plus!”
“At the end of the day, I know Bob well,” Ryan said. “Bob’s going to vote for Tennessee, he’s going to vote for America, he’s going to vote for tax reform because he knows it’s in the best interest of Americans.”
The speaker called the GOP’s opportunity to reform the tax code “historic” and urged that the social media exchange be put aside so that Congress could move forward on its agenda.
“All this stuff you see on a daily basis on Twitter this and Twitter that? Forget about it.” Ryan said. “Let’s focus on helping people, improving people’s lives, and doing the things that we said we would do that accomplishes that, that’s what we’re focused on.”