House Speaker Paul Ryan told Fox News' "The Story with Martha MacCallum" in an exclusive interview Thursday that he would oppose any deal to eliminate the U.S. debt ceiling despite a reported agreement between President Trump and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to pursue that goal.
"As imperfect as this tool is, I always see this as a good tool for fiscal discipline," Ryan told host Martha MacCallum. "I like the fact that Congress controls the power of the purse and that gives us opportunities for fiscal discipline."
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Trump and Schumer, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., discussed the idea of scrapping the debt ceiling at a White House meeting Wednesday and agreed to pursue the matter over the next several months.
Ryan added that he "wasn't furious" with Trump for cutting a deal with Pelosi and Schumer raise the nation's debt ceiling and keep the government operating for another three months.
In doing so, Trump overruled Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Ryan himself to agree to the short-term debt ceiling increase, a position the Speaker had slammed as "ridiculous and disgraceful."
"I completely understand why [Trump] was doing what he was doing," Ryan told Martha MacCallum Thursday night. "I think you expect the president to talk to the other party. Isn’t it natural that a president should be speaking with members of leadership of the other party?"
"I think what he’s trying to do is clear the decks so we can get focused on our big things like tax reform," Ryan added. "Second point is, we’re getting hit with two hurricanes ... and he wanted to make this a bipartisan moment. He wanted to make this a bipartisan moment where we weren’t fighting each other up in Washington about hurricane aid. He just wanted to get it done."
Ryan also reacted to anotherWashington Post report that former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon had held informal discussions with Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, about possible replacements for Ryan as Speaker.
"When I took this job at the request of our members [in October 2015], I knew it would come with lots of slings and arrows," Ryan said when asked about his position. "This is not something I’m worried about or focused on. I’m worried about getting our agenda passed."
Ryan declined to comment on his future if tax reform did not pass Congress, saying "I’m not going to get into any of that stuff ... Mark and I have had great conversations and I think there’s a lot in the press that isn’t accurate. But I’m not going to worry about any of that stuff."
Late Thursday, Ryan dined with Trump in what a White House official described as a "productive working dinner to review the fall legislative agenda," including "tax reform, the FY-18 budget, funding for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, raising the debt ceiling and the continuing resolution to keep the government funded.
"The President looks forward to working together with Congress on bipartisan solutions to improve the lives of all Americans," the official added.
Fox News' Ed Henry contributed to this report.