'Textbook' racism: House Speaker Ryan's agenda launch runs into Trump flap
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, hoping to help unify Republicans after a divisive presidential primary election campaign, began rolling out his policy agenda on Tuesday only to run straight into the uproar ...
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, hoping to help unify Republicans after a divisive presidential primary election campaign, began rolling out his policy agenda on Tuesday only to run straight into the uproar over Donald Trump's comments about a Hispanic judge.
Ryan, flanked by fellow House Republicans, was unveiling a plan to combat poverty through work-related initiatives but immediately found himself in the middle of the latest controversy around the Republican Party's presumptive nominee for the White House.
"I regret those comments that he made. Claiming a person can't do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed," Ryan told reporters.
Trump has faced a barrage of criticism from his own party over his allegations of bias against a Hispanic judge. He refused to back down on Monday on his comments last week suggesting that Mexican-American U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing fraud lawsuits against Trump University, is biased against him because of his heritage. [nL1N18Y13T]
Despite his strong condemnation of Trump on this issue, Ryan, the country's highest-ranking elected Republican, still sought to present Trump's candidacy as the way forward for Republicans. "We have more likelihood of getting our policies enacted with him than we do with (Democrat Hillary Clinton)," he said.
Ryan has described his agenda as a way to offer voters a coherent policy message across key legislative areas for 2017 in the run-up to the Nov. 8 general election. The second part, on national security, will be released on Thursday. Initiatives on regulation, constitutional authority, healthcare and tax reform are expected in the coming weeks.
Aides described the issue areas as common ground between Trump and Ryan, who had publicly expressed his doubts about the billionaire businessman and withheld his endorsement until last Thursday.
Ryan said later he felt confident that Trump, if elected president, would help move legislation based on the agenda into law. Republicans currently control both chambers of Congress.
Two topics where there are potentially strong differences with Trump and congressional Republicans - immigration and trade - were not included.
Ryan, a representative from Wisconsin who was the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2012, told a Wisconsin radio interviewer last week that he and Trump had reached "a comfortable understanding of each other" on the basic principles of the agenda. But he said disagreement on details were inevitable.
The anti-poverty initiative, unveiled by Ryan outside the headquarters of a Washington-based charity, calls for focusing government assistance programs on work and job training, according to documents released ahead of the event.
The plan would rein in the 2010 financial regulatory law known as Dodd-Frank to expand access to banking services through "the widest possible array of choices, from community banks to small-dollar lending." It promises reforms that would make it easier for small employers to provide 401(k) retirement accounts to their workers.
It would also change unemployment insurance by giving states greater flexibility to move people into jobs and provide more access to special education and mental or physical therapy for disabled children.
By David Morgan