House Speaker Paul Ryan is under fire yet again, this time for refusing to force outgoing failed Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) to endorse the Republican nominee for his district, who defeated him in a primary election on May 8.
Pittenger, an establishment politician whose vote for the omnibus spending bill without reading it cost him his House seat, is refusing to endorse conservative Dr. Mark Harris. Pittenger became the first incumbent Republican politician to lose a primary to a conservative challenger on May 8, and now he is refusing to support Harris in the general election–at least at this time.
In a local television interview this week, Pittenger was asked about his sore loser email he sent out the day after he lost the primary–and he doubled down on his refusal to support Harris in November.
“Well, let’s take a look at that,” Pittenger replied when asked if he plans to support Harris in November. “I just think that Mr. Harris ought to come out and say, ‘I’m sorry. I apologize for saying things that were not correct about my opponent Robert Pittenger'”:
Congressman @RobertPittenger joins me at 7 to talk about his latest bill pushing through Congress. I also asked him if he will support @MarkHarris2014 this fall against @McCreadyForNC #ncpol # @NCCapTonight pic.twitter.com/VMBiPmaCqy
— Tim Boyum (@TimBoyumTV) May 23, 2018
Pittenger is referring to Harris’s criticism of his decision to vote for the omnibus spending bill, a $1.3 trillion mess that no member of Congress read before voting for it and a bill that funded Planned Parenthood and did not fund President Donald Trump’s border wall–but did fund Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s pet project, dubbed Gateway, a tunnel and bridge system between Newark, New Jersey, and Manhattan.
“Certainly, I was not for funding Planned Parenthood,” Pittenger said, adding:
People would come up to me at the polls and say, “You’re killing babies.” I certainly was for a border wall. I was not for creating sanctuary cities and amnesty. All these things were, you know, in the mail and on the TV. It was very sad to watch it. It shouldn’t have happened. And I think, you know, we all have to live with that, but I think it would warrant his coming out and saying, “You know, I went too far.”
Harris said nothing about Pittenger that was even close to factually incorrect. In fact, as much as Pittenger says he is against funding Planned Parenthood, sanctuary cities, or amnesty, and for funding a border wall, he voted against his stated positions on all of those issues when he threw his support behind Ryan’s ploy for the omnibus spending bill. That bill was introduced just hours before members voted on it, so there is absolutely no way any member of Congress on either side of Capitol Hill could have possibly even read the full two-thousand-page-plus legislation before voting for it like Pittenger did.
Pittenger’s refusal to get behind Harris, who defeated him fairly and squarely at the polls as the voters in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District rejected his support for the omnibus, is not just an issue local to this district and this race, however. Holding this district is critical for Republicans nationally in their quest to keep the House GOP majority, and Pittenger’s petty refusal to support the Republican Party’s nominee hurt Trump–and potentially further jeopardizes the outgoing Ryan’s already tenuous position atop the conference.
“It is incumbent upon Paul Ryan and the rest of the leadership team to ensure Pittenger step up and endorse and do everything to ensure the victory of the Republican nominee in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District,” a senior GOP congressional aide told Breitbart News. “If they fail to do so, it will be more proof that they don’t care about holding the majority and would like to see Nancy Pelosi impeach President Trump.”
For his part, Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck has not replied to a request for comment–further demonstrating that Speaker Ryan and his team are not doing everything they can to hold the majority.
In April, Ryan announced he is retiring at the end of this Congress, and he has been steadily losing influence and control. Ryan has said he intends to stay on as speaker until early next year, something members are growing restless about, causing more crises for the lame duck Ryan.
Couple that with this ongoing discharge amnesty petition mess, and Ryan’s refusal to stop it by any means necessary while his leadership PAC funds the campaigns of signers disproportionately compared to other House members and candidates to the tune of millions and Ryan’s failure to pass the farm bill as the House Freedom Caucus crushed it over leadership failures on immigration policy, and Ryan has a serious problem on his hands.
After Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) this week became the first sitting member to publicly demand Ryan’s removal now, rather than after the elections, Ryan canceled precious family time to take an emergency flight back to Washington, DC, to try to get the madness under control:
Retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan is facing growing disruption in the ranks ahead of a tough election season. The infighting got so bad that Ryan flew back to DC from his home in Wisconsin on Tuesday to try to unify warring factions and reassert control. https://t.co/PDSpM35h1f
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) May 23, 2018
But with his lack of action in securing this issue in North Carolina, along with more contentious primaries ahead that will likely only intensify, Ryan has yet another crisis on his hands in that it appears to the members in the conference that the outgoing lame duck speaker is not interested in protecting the GOP majority.
“The question that we face now, really, is whether Ryan wants to legacy-build and accomplish long-sought-after policy goals he has, like immigration and prison reform, or our lame duck speaker cares about holding the majority he is not coming back to,” one House GOP member, who requested anonymity, told Breitbart News. “Since he is leaving anyway, why does he care if Republicans win in November?”