Boehner is out. Paul Ryan is in–and House Republicans begin a new era under his leadership. Yes, there are some who are skeptical about the change in power, given some of Ryan’s positions–one of them being support for a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. Moreover, some conservatives might have been wary over the fact that Senate Democrats see a productive ally in the House with Ryan as speaker. Yet, in the end, only nine Republicans voted against Ryan during last week’s speakership vote (via the Hill):
“Every time I’ve dealt with him, he’s been straightforward, he’s been honorable, and he’s been willing to compromise,” Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said of Ryan.
“I think that’s the really positive thing about him, who he is as a person,” added Schumer, who will take over as Senate Democratic leader in 2017.
Ryan (R-Wisc.), who is set to be elected Speaker in a formal floor vote on Thursday, is well known for authoring conservative budgets that liberals have hammered for years. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) even labeled his 2015 budget plan as “not good for children and other living things.”
Yet the Ways and Means Committee chairman earned good will with Senate Democrats as chairman of the House Budget Committee when he worked with Senate counterpart Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in 2013 to hammer out a budget deal that partially lifted the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration.
They also saw him as an ally in the effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the last Congress. He participated with House Democrats and conservatives such as Reps. Sam Johnson (Texas) and Raul Labrador (Idaho) in secretive immigration reform talks in 2013.
More recently, he negotiated with Schumer on an overseas corporate tax reform proposal that would bring in billions of dollars in new revenue, enough to fund a desperately needed multi-year transportation bill.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) even went so far as to endorse Ryan before he secured the top job, calling him "reasonable" compared to some of the other candidates for Speaker.
Today he did the “full Ginsburg,” where he spoke to every major network’s Sunday morning talk show and vowed to change the way the House brings forward legislation for a vote. Additionally, he wants to turn the House GOP into a “proposition party,” instead of one that just says no to the Obama White House:
On Sunday, Ryan laid out his broad vision for how to unite fractured House Republicans.
He told NBC’s “Meet the Press” the GOP needs to become a “proposition party” that aggressively puts forth alternative policy ideas, not just an “opposition party” that’s constantly saying no to a Democratic White House.
During a separate interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Ryan vowed to bring more rank-and-file members into the decision-making process, pledging a “bottom-up approach” that the conservative House Freedom Caucus has demanded. “I was not elected dictator of the House,” he declared.
And in another nod to distrusting conservatives, Ryan reiterated on ABC’s “This Week” he wouldn't tackle comprehensive immigration reform while President Obama is in office, calling him “untrustworthy on this issue after the president’s unilateral actions.
But Ryan also used the opportunity to shed some light on his personal life and help make him more relatable. Despite the heavier workload, he said he’ll try to stay active, continuing to camp, hike and mountain climb. Ryan is currently negotiating with his new Capitol Police security detail to give him more freedom during hunting trips.
“I told the security detail that human scent is not good for bow hunting,” he explained on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” So I won't go into the details, but I have to keep life normal. I have to keep life real. And I think they understand that.”
And while he’s now second in line to the presidency and a veteran of D.C. for two decades, Ryan portrayed himself as a humble, penny-pinching “citizen legislator” who will continue to sleep on a cot in his office whenever he’s in Washington.
“I just work here. I don’t live here,” Ryan, said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” noting that he commutes home each weekend to his native Janesville, Wis., where he lives with his wife and three young children.
Concerning presidential ambitions, it appears that window has closed. He told CNN’s Dana Bash that if he wanted to run, he would have this cycle and chose not to–and that he’s fine with that decision. Then again, he’s a young man. Anything can happen. Where Ryan could find himself with the RINO target on his back is the question about funding Planned Parenthood. He feels that the organization shouldn’t receive taxpayer money, but also mentioned that there's constitutional and procedural constraints facing the House Republican majority on this issue. Ryan acknowledged that one aspect of being an effective opposition party is knowing those limitations.
Ryan noted that the GOP controls the Senate, but their process of bringing bills up for a vote is difficult. We also have a president who isn’t against the vast majority of the Republican agenda, and there aren’t enough votes in either chamber to override his vetoes. Also, defunding Planned Parenthood during an election year would be insane. A sure-fire way to get every unmarried, urban, and college educated woman to vote Democrat next year, which has been effective in sinking Republican candidates. It’s an area Republicans know they need to work on, so why torpedo outreach with some pie-in-the-sky law that will surely be vetoed by Obama? As National Right To Life noted, the best way to defund Planned Parenthood is to wait until we have a pro-life Republican president. Ryan added that there’s going to be a special committee investigating Planned Parenthood, and that these members on the committee should be “in the driver’s seat" with any recommendations that are to come.