Donald Trump on Monday derided House Speaker Paul Ryan for the role he and other Republican leaders played in crafting a two-year budget agreement to fund the government, a potential sign of lingering conservative resentment over the agreement just as Congress reconvenes for 2016.
Speaking at a rally in Lowell, Mass., the GOP presidential frontrunner chided Ryan for agreeing to a deal that funds the Affordable Care Act, Planned Parenthood, global warming research and President Obama’s Syrian refugee program.
“Where are the Republicans? Where are the leadership?” Trump asked the audience on the eve of lawmakers returning to Capitol Hill. “There’s no leadership.”
He said the “stupid” deal would increase the country’s deficit by “trillions and trillions.”
“Everything that you don’t want is in that budget,” the former reality TV star later told the audience. “And I say where was Paul Ryan? Where are all of these people that are supposed to be representing our interests? Where were they? Where are they? Where are they? Nobody’s representing our interests.”
"We have people representing us that are not good, they’re not doing us any services," Trump added.
The remarks marked the latest skirmish in the running war of words between Trump and Ryan.
It began last month when the Wisconsin Republican come out strongly against Trump’s call for a “shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States.
“This is not conservatism,” Ryan said during a weekly news conference. “What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and, more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”
Ryan, who had made it a policy not to weigh in on the race for the White House, prefaced his comments as “an exception.” Sure enough, he has since declined to elaborate on his criticism of Trump, though Ryan has rejected the frontrunner’s proposal to deport 12 million illegal immigrants.
Ryan, who was elected to the speakership in September, was largely given a pass on the budget deal by far-right conservatives, laying the blame for the agreement that will see $1.1 trillion in federal spending through September at the feet of Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner (OH). The former speaker negotiated the compact’s topline numbers before giving up the gavel and retiring from Congress.
Ryan and other leaders have defended the deal as a win for conservative priorities, noting provisions like the one that lifted the 40-year-old ban on U.S. oil exports.
But before adjourning for the holiday break, many on the far right said they expected things to be different when lawmakers reconvened in 2016.
While not popular with many who serve on Capitol Hill, Trump’s comments are another indicator that many within the GOP are watching the new speaker closely, something Ryan himself seems aware of.
The House this week will kick off 2016 with a nod to social conservatives, scheduling a floor vote on a Senate-passed bill to replace Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood. The president is expected to veto the bill, but the theatre surrounding the vote may prove enough to mollify hardliners for a while and give Ryan breathing room on other legislation, such as the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government.
More than anything, Ryan wants to avoid the kind of repeated clashes Boehner had with the die-hards of the GOP conference, notably the House Freedom Caucus. The public bouts eventually grew too frequent for the Ohio Republican to withstand and he was driven from office.