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Ryan Faces His First Big Test As House Speaker: Avoid A Government Shutdown

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Ryan Faces His First Big Test As House Speaker: Avoid A Government Shutdown


By Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul D. Ryan faces his first big test as Congress stares down a deadline to do something that has become increasingly difficult: pass a bill to fund the government.

With just seven workdays remaining before the Dec. 11 deadline, the new speaker will aim to leverage his political honeymoon into a strategy that will avoid another federal shutdown.

But already Ryan is under pressure to tack on a host of GOP policy provisions to the $1.1 trillion spending bill — among them efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, halt the entry of Syrian refugees into the U.S. and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Forcing any of those extras into the bill might bolster support from Republican conservatives, but it would also unleash a backlash from Democrats, setting up a showdown in Congress and with the White House.

“We obviously have difference of opinions on all of these big issues,” Ryan said Tuesday, declining to explain how they might be resolved. “Those negotiations are ongoing right now.”

The Wisconsin Republican received an assist from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, the No. 2 Republican, who suggested Monday that the Dec. 11 deadline to pass a spending bill might slip to Dec. 18, allowing more time to get rank-and-file Republicans on board.

Leaders need to tamp down GOP dissent over what will likely be a compromise with Democrats.

“Our first principle starting out is to get the most conservative bill we can,” McCarthy told reporters Monday in the Capitol, saying he was “hopeful” the voting could be wrapped up by the 11th, but noting that Dec. 18 is the final workday before lawmakers break for the Christmas holidays.

“I wish it would go a little faster,” he said. “If not, we’re here until the 18th, and it won’t make any difference. We’ll get it done.”

He added: “I do not see a shutdown happening.”

President Barack Obama previously said he would not sign another temporary funding bill beyond the one that runs out Dec. 11, but the White House softened that Monday, opening the door for a stopgap measure for just a few days.

Both sides had hoped that the two-year budget accord reached this fall would create a smoother landing for the year-end spending bill. But staff negotiators have struggled over working nights and weekends to try to reach a compromise.

The days ahead will be pivotal for Ryan, who has enjoyed mostly positive reviews since he took over for beleaguered House Speaker John A. Boehner this fall.

But Ryan’s leadership has not yet been seriously tested.

“I say with some confidence that the newly elected speaker of the House doesn’t want to preside over a government shutdown six weeks into his tenure,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

Just two months ago, the funding fight over GOP efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, led in part by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the GOP presidential candidate, helped push Boehner out of office. Conservatives rallied opposition to Planned Parenthood after secretly recorded videos showed officials for the family planning organization discussing the use of fetal tissue for research.

Boehner decided to resign after conservatives threatened to oust him for refusing to engage in a protracted fight that could have resulted in a shutdown.

Hoping to avoid a similar outcome and unite the fractious GOP majority, Ryan vowed to change the culture of House leadership, mainly by meeting the Republican lawmakers’ demands to be more involved in the decision-making process.

Ryan has tapped the chairmen of the Appropriation Committee subcommittees — the leaders responsible for the spending bill — to sit down with rank-and-file lawmakers to craft priorities in the pending legislation.

And the new speaker launched a second weekly conference meeting — the private GOP sessions in the Capitol basement — as a forum to discuss the thorny details of various policies.

“Our challenge that Paul has set out for himself — doing a little more regular order, doing bigger issues — you see us working toward that,” McCarthy said. “They feel they’re being listened to.”

©2015 Tribune Co. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan via wikimedia commons




  1. Whatmeworry December 2, 2015

    Govt shutdowns are used for republican gain at the taxpayers expense

    1. Daniel Max Ketter December 3, 2015

      Me & my dear Linda Rae agree.

    2. I of John December 3, 2015

      I have to admit it seems that way.

    3. Eleanore Whitaker December 5, 2015

      The fact is that the House Republican majority is not the entire government. But, their tactic is to enrich their states by stiffing the rest of the states from our right to the tax dollars we all pay.

      I find is rather amazing that during the 30s and Great Depression, these very states were not too proud to take billions in tax dollars as handouts that went mainly to the south and midwest states who were on their knees or living in tents as a result of their own stupidity.

      I thought these CONservatives were too proud to live off government? They still do. When every Republican states is getting anywhere from $1.35 up to $1.85 for the $1 they pay in federal taxes and the Dem states barely average 55 cents, you see just how liberal the CONs are with your tax dollars…they are still grabbing handouts.

  2. rednekokie December 3, 2015

    I strongly suspect that, not only will he let the government shut down, but that this is exactly what he wants. Mr. Ryan will prove to be even more of a jackass than his predecessor. He and his co-horts will do anything to discomfort the president, no matter how the country suffers.

    1. Insinnergy December 3, 2015

      I’m afraid that I agree. :-/

  3. Dominick Vila December 3, 2015

    The dilemma for Speaker Ryan involves the need to satisfy the base of the Republican party, who regards anything close to compromise as evidence of betrayal, and avoid jeopardizing their electoral chances in 2016. I would not be surprised if they keep kicking the can down the road until after the 2016 election. After that, if Republicans remain in control of Congress, as it seems likely, all Hell is going to break lose. Especially if Hillary is elected President.

    1. bobnstuff December 3, 2015

      Why do we us the term base of the republican when referring to the conservatives terrorist in the party. They are not the base. A base supports the upper part of something, these people try to bring down the top. Politics is all about compromise, our country is based on compromise. No one gets everything they want and you must give a little to get a little. We have given way to much power to this band of vandals. The moderates in both parties need to band together and take the government back.

  4. Insinnergy December 3, 2015

    This is what happens with extremists.

    The GOP angst endlessly over Isis… but there are plenty of extremists within the Republican party. The nature of an extremist of any stripe is that they believe they are in the end times, and in a “Holy War”.

    This then justifies:
    – Demonising the opposition as evil
    – Labeling anyone who does a deal with the evil opposition as a traitor and tainted by them
    – Any means necessary to win. As in: The Ends (winning the Holy War against Evil) justify the Means.

    So look at what is currently standard operating procedure in the Republican party:

    The Democrats are attacked regularly as “ruining the country”, addicting the populace to government money to purchase votes, bringing about the end of America. People who need help are losers, “Takers”, useless, lazy, disgusting, immoral.

    Republicans that attempt to pass some deal or side with the Democrats on issues are labeled RINOs… and “Primaried” by a far more zealous Tea Party candidate… a la Eric Cantor.

    Oh where do we start…
    – “Mexicans are rapists” – Demonisation.
    – Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts when they are well aware they are not. – Lies.
    – Disenfranchisement of votes in a democracy they keep praising as exceptional. – Hypocrisy and Election rigging.
    – Forcing abortion clinic closures using laws named for women’s health – Lies.
    – Benghazi… – Lies and Hypocrisy. 9/11 anyone????
    – Religious “Freedom” laws – Bigotry enshrined in law.
    – LGBT hate… Bigotry, segregation, disenfranchisement, persecution, demonisation.

    … and the list goes on.

    Politics requires a little mutual respect, a lot of compromise, a solid understanding that you won’t ever get every single thing you want, and (I would say) a reasonable eye on what is best for the country over what is best for your personal wealth, or your party’s power.

    Unfortunately one party is full of end-time, knuckle-dragging, political purist wingnuts who believe they are in a holy war for the soul of their country.

    Viewed through this extremist lens, pretty much everything that happens in Congress, or in the Republican presidential candidates’ droolings, makes sense.

    Poor us.

  5. Eleanore Whitaker December 5, 2015

    Americans need to face the reality that the GOP wants to take over the government by hook or by crook…mostly by crook. Why else does Ryan meet with the Koch boys on a regular basis if the Koch boys are not the back room presidents?

    Ryan now believes that the position of Speaker of the House is higher than that of the President. He and his crook GOP party need to be reminded that the Constitution provides for “separate but equal” power in Congress and government. That isn’t what a power freak Republican man ever wants. He wants to be No. 1. Why else would a moron like Trump who has to have the prettiest wife, the most money and the most power want to be president.?


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