Columns

Paul Ryan's 2016 Forecast: House GOP Will Be 'Proposition Party'

The once-reluctant replacement for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he thinks much has been accomplished in the lower chamber in just the past couple of months.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who’s been busy trying to pull together enough GOP votes to pass an omnibus spending package, told reporters on the Hill today that he’s been making good on his promise “to get the House working again as the Founders intended it to work.”

“So far, we’ve opened up the process. More amendments, more conference committees, more new members on conference committees. In 2016, we will make it our goal to pass all 12 appropriation bills through regular order. This hasn’t been done since 1994, but it’s how Congress ought to operate so that we can better protect the taxpayer dollars and make our place the true representative body that it is,” he said.

Ryan said the caucus has found “common ground without compromising our principles” on transportation, defense, education, and customs bills over six weeks.

And the GOP is being an “effective opposition party” with a spending bill that blocks several Obamacare provisions and halts EPA overreach, he argued. In January, he said, the House will pass an Obamacare repeal and Planned Parenthood defuding bill and send it to President Obama for an assured veto.

“In 2016, we are going to be a proposition party. As I told our members this week, I didn’t become speaker to sit in a room and make big decisions on big bills. I became speaker to give us a horizon to shoot for; to lift our gaze so that we can show the American people who we are, and what we believe, and what we’re going to do to solve their problems,” Ryan said.

He acknowledged that the spending bill is a bipartisan compromise — Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters today she’ll be voting for it — but the GOP “got some good wins.”

“And look, Democrats win some things, too. That’s the nature of bipartisan compromises,” Ryan added. “And so the way I look at this is we have made the best of the situation we have. There are some really good wins in here for the American people. There are very good wins in here for the economy, for job creators, for taxpayers.”

“…We’ve got to do two things next year. We have to walk and chew gum at the same time. We have to look for common ground to advance the common good where we think we can find good — good things to do together. And we’ve done that just this year — transportation is a good one; education is another one; what we’re passing this week… But we also have to offer the country a clear choice. We have to put alternatives out there.”

Ryan vowed those alternatives will be decided via a “decentralized system” in the Republican caucus.

“Our members are going to participate from the bottom up, organically, in assembling this agenda. So what I want to see happen in 2016 is everybody who ran for Congress and came to the Republican Conference has an equal say-so in how we’re going to assemble this agenda, and take our case to the American people. Because we think that’s the choice they deserve,” he said.

“And one of the things that I’ve always thought this place needed was more regular order; more participation; democratizing the institution; small ‘d’ democratizing. And that’s something that I think we’ve done. I think what I have found in the last six weeks is by opening up this process, by having more member involvement, by having the place work the way it was intended, is we’ve taken a lot of pressure out of the system,” Ryan continued.

“I think members feel like they can come and do their jobs better. And I think constituents as a result are better represented. So I feel very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish here in just a couple of months. And I’m excited about getting on to the rest of our agenda in 2016.”