Ryan Tries to Block Pre-Election GOP Leadership Changes

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

House Speaker Paul Ryan is rejecting the growing inside pressure for him to allow a new leadership team who can guide the GOP’s House caucus through the difficult 2018 elections.

In a Thursday interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Ryan showed that he does not want to quit the leadership post soon, even though he has announced he will resign after the election. Instead of leaving, Ryan said he plans to “run through the tape” while pushing his 2016 priorities — not President Donald Trump’s election-winning 2016 priorities:

That’s what I mean [by] ‘Running through the tape’ – finishing the agenda we ran on in ’16. We’ve done the rebuild of the military. We’ve done the tax reform. We’ve done enormous amounts of regulatory relief. We’ve done a lot of our poverty work with enterprise zones and the rest. So finish the job on regulatory relief and go work on workforce development, getting people off of welfare, into the workforce, in a good career, vocational or technical education, and let the states be flexible and experiment …

I’m focused on keeping our majority. I’m focused on campaigning with our members. And I’m focusing on finishing this agenda.

But that establishment agenda won’t help the GOP in November, argues Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies.

“What Ryan is saying is that he is going to run on an establishment Marco Rubio/Jeb Bush agenda when the whole lesson of the 2016 primaries and the general election is that Republican voters don’t want the standard agenda,” he said, adding:

Repeating the same establishment pieties is not going to excite Republican voters to counter the certain increase in turnout by the left … They’re energized and in effect, will try to vote for Hillary [Clinton]. The only way to counteract that is by energizing Republican Party voters and entitlement reform will not do that.

Immigration is one thing that will do that. Obviously, issues like border security and the migration caravan do get attention, but they are not pocketbook issues, whereas issues such as ever-more H-1Bs and H-2B do hit people’s pocketbooks. You need a coherent immigration message which puts emphasis on security and enforcement together with jobs and wages.

House GOP sources say a post-Ryan leadership team may combine Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is now Majority Leader, Rep. Steve Scalie, now the House whip, Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, and Ohio’s Rep. Jim Jordan, a leading conservative.

Ryan, however, is resisting the pressure to exit. On April 12, for example, he reportedly leaned on Rep. Tom Graves who is pushing for a quick transition. According to the Washington Post:

Ryan reiterated Friday that any leadership election would wait until after the November elections, and his endorsement [of McCarthy] came hours after Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a prominent and polarizing conservative, acknowledged that he is considering a challenge to McCarthy — sending an emphatic signal that the Californian will not have a cakewalk.

“There is no speaker’s race right now. Paul Ryan is the speaker,” Jordan said Friday. “If and when there is, I’ve been urged by colleagues to consider that, and I am definitely open to that. Right now, though, the focus has got to be on the next six months, us keeping the majority.”

Several Republican lawmakers said Friday that, barring an unlikely deal between McCarthy and the conservative bloc, Jordan’s run all but ensures that the leadership elections will be put off until November. Ryan has personally interceded to tamp down an effort to accelerate his departure and hold earlier elections, meeting Thursday with Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.), a McCarthy ally who had been pushing colleagues for a swift transition.

“As long as Ryan is Speaker of the House, the Republican Party is not likely to put together an employee-oriented agenda that includes tightening up on immigration,” said Krikorian. He continued:

“Ther’s nothing wrong with employers, but they got a big tax cut and they are getting regulaitons reduced.  I’m all for that, but cutting back unskilled immigration and the visa[-worker] categories is a necessary balance because it likely to benefit ordinary employees rather than business …

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.




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