U.S. House Speaker Ryan rolls out election-year policy agenda

WASHINGTON U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, hoping to help unify Republicans after a divisive primary election campaign, was due to begin rolling out his long-promised conservative policy agenda on Tuesday, with an anti-poverty initiative that emphasizes work.

It was unclear whether the election-year blueprint, titled “A Better Way,” would win the blessings of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, a political outsider who has been willing to break ranks with party orthodoxy on major issues.

Ryan, the country’s highest-ranking elected Republican, has described the agenda as a way to offer voters a coherent policy message across key legislative areas for 2017. 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 withheld his endorsement of the billionaire businessman until last Thursday. The Wisconsin Republican said later he felt confident that Trump, if elected president in November, would help move legislation based on the agenda into law. Republicans currently control both chambers of Congress.

Two divisive topics – immigration and trade – were not included.

Ryan, 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, due to be unveiled formally on Tuesday at 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.

“If you are capable, we will expect you to work or prepare for work,” one of the documents said.

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.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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