By Erik Wasson - 11/19/13 04:33 PM EST
Ryan: No need to worry about another shutdown
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul RyanHave Republicans hit rock bottom on voting rights yet? Biden should have been the clear choice for vice president Trump, Clinton intelligence briefings likely to start next week MORE (R-Wis.) said Tuesday that the country doesn’t need to worry about another government shutdown in January when the current stopgap spending bill runs out.
The government shutdown lasted for 16 days in October, after Republicans demanded that President Obama defund his signature healthcare law.
To avoid another shutdown, Ryan said either he and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would strike a budget deal or Congress would pass a stopgap keeping existing spending levels.
“Either of those two scenarios will prevail, and we will not have a government shutdown,” he said at the Wall Street Journal annual CEO Council. “We will keep the government funding at the current level if need be.”
Ryan said that he does not believe there will be any brinkmanship over the debt ceiling in February either. He said Republicans now understand that a shutdown won’t stop ObamaCare because it is a mandatory program, not a discretionary agency budget line item.
“ObamaCare is an entitlement, they are not related,” he said.
Ryan said that some progress has been made with Murray, but fundamental disagreements remain over entitlement reform, taxes and whether a deal would cut the deficit below the current path.
“We are farther than we were when we started,” he said, adding that “they [Democrats] are signaling they are not willing to do entitlement reform in any form.”
He also argued that closing tax loopholes now would hurt bipartisan attempts to reform the tax code. Deficit reduction from such changes should be used to lower rates, he argued.
“If we take tax loopholes and put them in this budget process, we are shortchanging tax reform,” Ryan said.