Paul Ryan is right about the House being broken. But can he fix it?

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Can Paul Ryan Fix the ‘Broken’ U.S. House of Representatives?.

In a formal transfer of power that was equal parts celebratory and emotional, the 45-year-old Wisconsin Republican on Thursday won an election on the House floor to replace the departing Boehner, who resigned last month rather than try to head off a conservative revolt. Nine Republicans cast their votes for a long-shot challenger, Daniel Webster of Florida, denying Ryan the unanimity he sought but allowing him to claim a measure of unity from a divided Republican conference.

Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, was elected speaker of the House Thursday and proceeded to declare the institution he now leads “broken” and in need of reform. Ryan was elected House speaker Thursday, closing a bitter and protracted GOP leadership battle, but not fully resolving the internal divisions that have upended the Republican majority.

John Boehner of Ohio as speaker (all times local): That’s according to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who says Obama has spoken in the past about his respect for Ryan despite significant differences they have on policy. Ryan now has a job he said he never wanted, and he immediately set about to fix a legislative chamber that he bluntly declared to be broken. “We’re not solving problems.

Ryan inherits a party conference that’s divided over whether to cooperate with Democrats and the Obama administration to forge agreements such as the two-year budget deal passed Wednesday by the House, or instead use their power over the purse to try to force policy concessions from the president. “We have nothing to fear from honest differences honestly stated. The problems Ryan identified had less to do with partisan gridlock between Republicans and Democrats and more to do with divisions within his own party stoked by difference over tactics and ideology.

If you have ideas, let’s hear them,” Ryan, 45, plans to tell House members in a speech immediately after the election, according to his office. “A greater clarity between us can lead to a greater charity among us.” Some, including Boehner, say the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee — who now will be second in line to succeed the president — understands he may be ruining his chances of ever being elected president by taking the difficult job. Earnest says that with the GOP in control of Congress and with a Democrat in control of the White House, anything making it through the legislative process will have to be bipartisan. Boehner, who bid a tearful farewell Thursday, and prompted Ryan to pledge to return some of the power amassed in recent decades by House leadership to the rank-and-file. “We are not solving problems; we are adding to them,” he said in a short address after his election Thursday morning. “I am not interested in laying blame. In many ways, Ryan represents a new generation of Republicans, who came of political age during President Reagan’s administration and adhere to more conservative social and economic ideals than their mainstream colleagues. Ryan is known for the “Ryan budget,” an austerity blueprint that has guided GOP thinking, as well as for his grueling P90X workouts and preference for hard rock music and Miller beer. “This is the loneliest place in the world, almost as lonely as the presidency,” Boehner said during an exit interview with reporters, seated in a leather wingback chair in his second-floor office overlooking the National Mall. “What makes it even lonelier is, you realize at the end of the day, you got to make decisions, and those decisions have consequences, and those consequences fall back on one person,” he said between cigarettes. “So it’s something that takes a little getting used to.” Boehner started his own career 25 years ago as a renegade who challenged the party’s then-leaders, particularly on pork spending from “earmarks.” But now the target of outsider ire as a face of the Washington establishment, he chose to resign rather than allow a divisive GOP floor battle with conservatives were planning to oust him. “Around here,” Boehner said, “members run around and do all kinds of things.

Holding them aloft with a nod to the chamber, he won the first of several ovations. “I leave here with no regrets or burdens,” Boehner said. “If anything, I leave as I started—just a regular guy humbled by the chance to do a big job. Freedom Caucus member Trent Franks of Arizona said Ryan “has the unique ability to create a compelling message and to disseminate it in a way that people understand it.” Ryan promised to give rank-and-file Republicans a stronger say in running the House, but he also backed this week’s bipartisan two-year budget accord. The Freedom Caucus called the deal a “fiscal monstrosity.” He only agreed to seek the job last week after initially telling colleagues he didn’t want it. And I understood very quickly when I got this job, it was my No. 1 responsibility.” Ryan faces obstacles ahead, even after Boehner tried to “clean up the barn” on his way out with House passage of a two-year, $80-billion budget deal that also extends the debt ceiling into 2017, well past the presidential election.

Meanwhile, all but three Democrats supported House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “Let’s pray for each other: Republicans for Democrats, and Democrats for Republicans,” he said. “And I don’t mean pray for a conversion. When Boehner resigned, the GOP turned to Ryan, a wonky tax writer who had been a rising star in the party long before Mitt Romney picked him as his running mate in 2012. The Freedom Caucus’s push to shut down the government rather than continue funding Planned Parenthood, the women’s health provider whose services include abortion, played a major role in pushing Boehner, 65, to announce he would resign. Revolts by conservatives led to a 16-day partial government shutdown in 2013, and the US neared the brink of default in 2011 and 2013 as conservatives battled to attach policy changes to a debt-limit increase. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Conservative lawmakers, including those in the influential House Freedom Caucus, also want to see Ryan put into practice the rule changes they demanded to loosen leadership’s grip on House procedures.

In his first speech since being elected on Thursday, Ryan says “the House is broken,” but that it can be fixed if lawmakers realize they are “all in the same boat.” Ryan says he has no illusion that unity in the House will suddenly break out. And although Ryan agreed to serve only after the party came begging, even he had to make promises to secure the support of the same conservatives who tormented Boehner. When he decided to run, Ryan told fellow Republicans he wanted them to unify behind him, end leadership crises and let him continue spending time with his family.

Ryan assured the right he’d run the House differently, promising to shake up the structure of committees and give rank-and-file members a stronger hand in writing legislation that makes it to the floor for a vote. On Wednesday, the Republican conference formally nominated him in a private vote, and on Thursday the House ratified Ryan’s selection in a spectacle unique in American politics—a long, slow reading of each name of the chamber’s 435 representatives, who then rose to shout the name of their chosen candidate.

One thing that might come back to haunt him is his promise to Freedom Caucus members to follow an informal Republican policy allowing legislation to reach the floor only if most party members support it. Ryan needed a majority of the chamber, and by the time the vote began, the only drama was in guessing how many of the 247 Republicans would cast their support elsewhere. Bidding farewell Thursday, Boehner, who cast the final vote for Ryan, said he leaves the House as “the same regular guy that came here.” He recited a list of his accomplishments, including major spending cuts, ending earmarks and preserving the D.C. school voucher program. Boehner also left Ryan with a fiscal agreement hashed out with President Obama that would increase government spending by $80 billion through 2017 and raised the federal debt limit — enraging hard-line conservatives but clearing major fiscal obstacles from Ryan’s path in his the first 16 months as speaker. The final vote—the 236th for Ryan—came from Boehner himself, who announced Ryan’s election and waited for him in the speaker’s chair. “Don’t cry!” the smiling Wisconsinite told him as the two friends embraced.

During four years as Budget Committee chairman, Ryan proposed repealing Obamacare, cutting business tax rates, ending the estate tax and consolidating programs for low-income households. Pledging a clean break that wasn’t about “settling scores,” Ryan pledged to restore “regular order”—Congress-speak for empowering committees at the expense of top-down, leadership-dictated policy. He also has supported allowing 11 million undocumented immigrants to eventually become U.S. citizens, a stance backed by most Democrats and passed in a bipartisan 2013 Senate vote but strongly opposed by most House Republicans. And a major transportation bill also needs to get done in short order — legislation that is also tied up in a fierce internal GOP debate over renewing lending authority for the Export-Import Bank.

In an echo of both Boehner and Obama before him, Ryan said that while the “cynics may scoff,” “you better believe we will try.” “We will not duck the tough issues. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who abandoned his own hopes of becoming speaker earlier this month in the face of conservative opposition, said Ryan would be able to meet those challenges: “The future looks brighter,” he said Thursday. “Yeah, there’s work involed in that, but the hurdles are not as high as they were a week ago.” And to a person, they were promises each of them had all heard before—most recently in early January, from the man who minutes earlier had walked out the door.

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