How well do you know Speaker Ryan?
Not very well. I mean, I respect him. I disagree with his approach. I disagreed with his budget, but I respect the fact that he believes what he believes in. We disagree, but let’s now have a conversation in Congress.
Have you seen much difference in the leadership style between Ryan and former Speaker John Boehner?
In all fairness to [Ryan], he’s only been in a few weeks, of which we were [recessed for] two of them. John Boehner was true and loyal to his caucus, but when they said, We’re going to shut down the government unless you defund Planned Parenthood, that went too far. I don’t know what the threshold is for too far for this new Speaker.
What do you see getting done next year?
In addition to the Republicans’ having appointed a committee on Benghazi—really, on Hillary Clinton—and on Planned Parenthood, I would hope that they would appoint a select committee on gun safety. I hope in the next year we would be able to have legislation to reform the tax code. And from the standpoint of our national security, we are so overdue for a reauthorization of use of military force.
Can the House pass the two pending bipartisan gun-safety bills—one that closes background-check loopholes and another that bars those on the FBI’s no-fly list from purchasing weapons? The American people support them overwhelmingly. The NRA objects to them. It’s hard to understand or explain to anyone why someone who is on the FBI’s terrorist watch list can walk into a store and more than 90% of the time come out with a gun.
What do you think of Obama’s legacy?
On Inauguration Day, when he stood there on those steps, unemployment was around 10%. It’s half that now. The deficit was reduced by 70%. The market is 10,000 points higher. The auto industry was on its heels; now it’s thriving. We’ve had 70 straight months of private-sector job creation, including that industry, which is a fabulous job recovery.
Will you endorse a candidate for President in 2016?
Yes, I will. When I endorse, you’ll find out who. I will say this: I’m not sure everybody has the fullest appreciation of what it would mean to have a woman as our candidate for President who is so qualified to be President. We want to elect the best possible person. She happens to be a woman, and what that confidence inspires in people is immeasurable. I can just tell you that from my experience, which is much narrower, becoming Speaker, the response was so overwhelming.
This appears in the December 28, 2015 issue of TIME.