Home / World News / Ryan savors tax bill win, but coming fights could roil GOP – The Denver Post

Ryan savors tax bill win, but coming fights could roil GOP – The Denver Post

By Alan Fram, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — It was a victory lap so irresistible that Speaker Paul Ryan did it twice.

When the House approved the $1.5 trillion Republican tax bill Tuesday and again Wednesday with minor changes, it was a beaming Ryan who emphatically pounded the gavel, announced the vote and applauded his bellowing GOP colleagues.

The moment put lawmakers on the cusp of shipping the measure to President Donald Trump and achieving one of Ryan’s — and his party’s — long-cherished goals. Since entering the House in 1999 as a 28-year-old whose resume ranged from fitness trainer to congressional aide, Ryan has evolved into a dominant GOP voice on tax and budget issues.

Few dispute that the Wisconsin Republican can claim the tax bill’s passage as a personal triumph. But in a business that often cares more about the next battle than the last one, the coming few days and the 2018 election year loom as a complicated and risky time for Ryan.

To ward off a Christmas-season or January government shutdown and win defense spending boosts, GOP leaders will eventually need a compromise with Democrats demanding domestic program increases and an immigration deal. That could anger his party’s most conservative members, who helped push previous Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, into early retirement in 2015 when they decided he was too prone to cut bipartisan agreements.

“I can’t imagine that a historic tax reform package would be enough credit to stop backlash from a bad spending and immigration bill that gets put on the House floor,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., leader of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, said in an interview Tuesday. “It’s just not the way that politics happen. They’re viewed as two separate things.”

Up next will be the 2018 agenda, which Ryan envisions focusing on squeezing savings from benefit programs that moderates from competitive districts are leery of touching. Then comes November’s midterm elections in which Trump’s unpopularity means the GOP faces a real chance of losing House and Senate control.

“He’s got to hold the House,” said former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., who once led the House GOP’s campaign efforts. “At the end of the day, part of the report card of leaders is they’ve got to re-elect their members.”

For now, Ryan is relishing congressional approval of the tax bill, which Trump is certain to sign. His desire to revamp the code was evident in 1998, when as congressman-elect he complained during a C-SPAN interview that existing laws were inhibiting practices “that make America great,” two decades before Trump made similar words famous.

“I am very pleased with how far we pushed the art of the possible,” Ryan said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press.

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