Representative Paul Ryan, whose budget will be voted on in the House today, says he is now “cautiously optimistic” that Congress will be able to hammer out a budget this year, after Senate Democrats brought one forward earlier this month. Ryan told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer yesterday that, since each house has passed a budget, “we can work toward what we call regular order,” saying “now that we have a budget process that’s moving, we can find some common ground and we can get some kind of agreement that’s a down payment on the [deficit] problem.” Blitzer pointed out to Ryan that his House budget will be dead-on-arrival in the Senate, but Ryan reminded the host that the Senate Democratic budget failed yesterday in the House, too (it was voted down 154 to 261, with one-sixth of the Democratic caucus voting against the budget).
Ryan was also asked how the president’s budget, overdue but expected in the next month or so, would affect the process. Ryan said he expects the president is “not going to do anything new in the budget,” but that if Obama made public the concessions he’s willing to make for a grand bargain or compromise, “that would be helpful to the process.” As to whether the president is “sincere in wanting to get something done,” Ryan said “time will tell”: The president might “reengage the campaign” and “go back to impugning our motives,” or actually encourage negotiation between the parties, but the congressman said he’s “hopeful” it’s the latter.
As for his own political aspirations, Ryan said later in the interview that he was focusing on the his budget-committee chairmanship and his constituents for now. “I’m going to make my mind up later” on a 2016 presidential run, he said.