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Paul Ryan’s Challenges Will Not start Until After Nov. 8 Election

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is expected to cruise to re-election in his Wisconsin congressional district on Nov. 8, the day before his real political problems are likely to start.

That is when Ryan will know the shape of the new House of Representatives. If, as some analysts foresee, it becomes even more conservative than it is now, Ryan’s difficulties in managing the lower chamber of Congress could worsen.

For the highest-ranking elected U.S. Republican, that could spell trouble as the former vice presidential nominee looks ahead to a possible presidential run in 2020.

Some staunch House conservatives, questioning Ryan’s commitment to them and their agenda, are looking less kindly on the idea of re-electing him as speaker early next year.

But his real test, assuming he retains the speaker’s gavel, would be getting legislative results with a more conservative House. Compounding that could be the U.S. Senate switching to Democratic from Republican control and possibly a Democratic president, Hillary Clinton, if she beats Republican Donald Trump in the November election.

“Next year, almost no matter what, is going to be a very tough one for Paul Ryan,” said political scientist Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute think tank.

The 2016 election results could cast a shadow over Ryan’s presidential ambitions in 2020 and 2024, assuming he harbours them. “It may well be that he decides it’s just not worth it, partly given what he sees within his own party,” Ornstein said.

Ryan’s aides were reluctant on Monday to discuss the possible challenges of the next Congress.

“The focus over the next 57 days is defending and strengthening our House majority. We are in a good position,” said Ryan’s political spokesman, Zack Roday.

SMALLER, MORE CONSERVATIVE CAUCUS?

Republicans hold 246 of the 435 House seats, their biggest majority in decades. But analysts expect the party will lose seats in November, especially if Trump hurts fellow Republicans.

House members serve two-year terms and most are easily re-elected. The political prediction newsletter “Sabato’s Crystal Ball” has tagged only 16 races as too close to call. Ten of those are currently held by moderates or pragmatists who have been fairly reliable supporters of legislation backed by Republican leaders including Ryan. Five of the 10 are retiring from the House.

If Trump’s performance damages candidates down the ticket, moderates may bear the brunt. The result could be a smaller House Republican majority more dominated by politically secure conservatives of the sort who have in recent years defied Ryan on some legislation.

“A shrinking GOP conference is no doubt going to be more conservative in the new Congress, raising the challenge for Speaker Ryan to form majorities with a slimmer and more conservative rank and file,” said Sarah Binder, professor of political science at George Washington University.

If a number of moderates lose their seats, while most conservatives hold theirs, “then the House Freedom Caucus becomes more powerful,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of “Sabato’s Crystal Ball.”

The Freedom Caucus is the House’s most conservative bloc, with about 40 members. It helped eject Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner, a year ago, leading to Ryan’s election as speaker.

The Freedom Caucus initially welcomed Ryan, a budget and fiscal policy specialist seen as more willing to listen to their agenda. But some Freedom Caucus members are unhappy with him since one of their members, Representative Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, lost a primary election last month.

Ryan could have done more to help Huelskamp, some critics said. “There was huge disappointment in that,” said Representative John Fleming, a Freedom Caucus member from Louisiana who is running for the U.S. Senate in November.

The Huelskamp fallout has driven speculation that some conservatives who previously backed Ryan will oppose him when the House elects a new speaker in January, although none of them has said so publicly.

“I don’t think most members feel yet that Ryan is undeserving of more time (as speaker), but frustration with the leadership is certainly growing,” said Dan Holler of Heritage Action, the political wing of the Heritage Foundation conservative think tank.

(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Peter Cooney)

Photo: U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks at a news conference following a closed Republican party conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

Paul Ryan May Face A Political Coup: Report

According to a new report by The Huffington Post, House Speaker Paul Ryan may be facing a new political coup from House conservatives. And even if anti-Ryan conservatives don’t have the votes to force Ryan out, they may attempt to change House rules to weaken his pull.

Many House Republicans don’t believe preventing Ryan from the speaker post is truly possible, but the fact that these discussions are taking place is evidence of Ryan’s weakening relationship with House conservatives.

Many of those in opposition to Ryan belong to the House Freedom Caucus, which counts roughly 40 strict conservatives as members, and believe that Ryan may not have the votes needed on the first ballot. If this is the case, they believe this would give them enough leverage to change certain House rules regarding caucus representation, subcommittee staff structure, and rules-suspension votes. They also hope to change rules to allow the Republican National Congressional Committee to raise money for the Freedom Caucus.

The goal may not even be to actually change the rules — some House conservatives are hoping that a loss by Ryan on the first ballot may be enough for the camps to discuss compromise options.

Photo: U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) holds a weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Net Neutrality Moves To Congress

On February 26, Federal Communications Commissioner Tom Wheeler led the Democratic majority on the commission to a 3-2 net neutrality ruling that designated the internet a public utility and prohibits big internet service providers from establishing pay-to-play fast lanes for preferred content providers while slowing content for everyone else.

By classifying the internet as a public utility under Title II of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the Democratic majority insulated the FCC against the sort of lawsuits that blocked the commission’s earlier efforts.

The fight over net neutrality now moves to the Congress, where Republican Speaker John Boehner has promised legislation that would counter the FCC ruling. The big internet service providers that oppose net neutrality have spent large sums of money lobbying Congress, now their last best hope to block net neutrality.

Between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2014, cable giants Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, and AT&T have together spent more than $374 million in a lobbying campaign to block net neutrality legislation or rule making.

Net Neutrality Lobbying Chart

Net neutrality legislation will move through the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which held a hearing on the topic the day before the FCC ruled.

Republicans in Congress, in fact, were using House committee hearings to warn the FCC of the fight that would ensue if the commission were to act on net neutrality.

Republican congressmen Fred Upton (MI) and Greg Walden (OR) chair the two House committees that oversee the FCC. A month before the commission’s February 26 ruling, they held a joint committee hearing designated: Protecting the Internet and Consumers through Congressional Action.

The four big internet service providers contributed $99,500 to Upton and $56,800 to Walden during the 2014 election cycle. House Speaker Boehner has received $75,450 in money from big cable companies.

By early March, a House Republican had delivered on Boehner’s promise of legislation aimed at the FCC. Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn filed the first anti-net-neutrality bill two weeks after the commission’s decision. Her Internet Freedom Act would overturn the net neutrality rules and limit FCC regulation of the internet. She received $80,000 in cable company money last electoral cycle.

Lou Dubose is the editor of The Washington Spectator.

Source: MapLight, a nonpartisan research organization that reveals money’s influence on politics.

Originally posted at The Washington Spectator.

Photo: Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell meet in the U.S. Capitol on January 7, 2015. (Official Photo by Caleb Smith; Speaker Boehner/Flickr)

 

Clinton’s Email Server Sought By House Benghazi Panel Chairman

By Kathleen Miller, Bloomberg News (TNS)

WASHINGTON — The Republican chairman of a U.S. House panel investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks is asking former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to decide by April 3 whether to turn over her private email server to an outside arbiter.

Trey Gowdy of South Carolina said in a letter to Clinton’s lawyer that if she refuses, he will ask House Speaker John Boehner to “use the full powers of the House” to obtain the server.

Gowdy said in the letter dated March 19 that Clinton should give her email server to the State Department inspector general or another independent arbiter to decide which messages are work-related and which are personal.

Gowdy is examining the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The disclosure that Clinton used a private email address and a home server while secretary of state came as Clinton is preparing to announce whether she will seek the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

David Kendall, Clinton’s attorney, didn’t immediately respond to an email and phone call seeking comment about whether Clinton would comply with the request.

Her office said March 10 she gave 30,490 work-related emails to the State Department, which is reviewing them for public release. Another 32,830 emails, which Clinton said involved personal matters such as wedding planning or yoga routines, were deleted.

Gowdy’s letter to Kendall said he should respond by April 3 on whether Clinton will comply with the request.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has said he would prefer not to subpoena Clinton. His panel is also looking into the issue of her communications.

Gowdy’s committee has previously subpoenaed the State Department for materials and sent letters asking Internet service providers to preserve any records they may have on Benghazi.

Gowdy has said his panel lacks the authority to issue a subpoena for the Clinton server. He said March 15 on Fox News Sunday that the full House may need to go to court to get access to the server.
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With assistance from Mark Drajem and Billy House in Washington.

Speaker Boehner meets with Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who is to serve as chairman of the select committee to investigate the events surrounding the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi. (SpeakerBoehner/Flickr)