On Friday, it was reported by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray were “just a few billion” dollars apart on a 2-year budget deal. The two Budget Committee chairs are expected to work through the weekend to finalize a deal that is expected to replace some of the sequester cuts and, possibly, raise government revenue. Even if a budget deal passes Congress, it would be up to the appropriations committees to enact the deal. Still, the closeness of a deal represents a significant shift from the past few years, when Congress failed to pass even a budget framework. It also represents Ryan’s growing power in the House.
The House Republican caucus gives Rep. Ryan considerable sway over all budget matters. For the past several years, almost unilaterally, he has crafted the caucus’s policies on spending and entitlements. Unusually, Ryan also holds a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which sets tax and entitlement policy. House Republicans even gave Ryan a waiver on committee chair term limits so he could continue to run the Budget Committee. No other chair was given such a waiver.
To a certain extent, this isn’t surprising. Ryan has long been considered a policy wonk on fiscal matters. He has a detailed understanding of the America’s long-term budget challenges and understands the trade-offs necessary for a viable solution. Ryan, however, is emerging as a leader on issues outside fiscal issues.
As Breitbart News has reported, Ryan is one of the House’s biggest supporters of some kind of citizenship process for the country’s 11 million illegal aliens. He stresses that increasing border security is also critical, but is more open to amnesty than other members of the caucus.
Amnesty supporters, including Barack Obama and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, publicly applaud Ryan’s position on the issue and credit him with any possible movement towards immigration reform. Gutierrez, a long-time champion of amnesty has even described Ryan as his “guiding light” on the issue.
Sources on Capitol Hill have told Breitbart News that Ryan is pivotal to whatever amnesty legislation passes Congress. “Nothing happens on this without Ryan,” the source explained.
Ryan’s new leadership on this issue isn’t as obvious as his fiscal leadership. It suggests Ryan is extending his legislative authority to issues beyond his natural base of budget issues.
Ryan is unlikely to receive another waiver to continue running the Budget Committee in the next Congress. He will need to find a new leadership role on the Hill after next year. He is clearly moving in that direction.