Tag Archives: Paul Ryan

Democrats might ignite firestorm if they oust Pelosi

Newly empowered U.S. House Democrats are playing with fire if they find a way to push their longtime congressional caucus leader out of the speakership.

Nancy Pelosi once served as the nation’s (so far) only female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. She wants her old job back now that Democrats have retaken control of the People’s House.

But … not so fast, Mme. Presumptive Speaker.

Some of her colleagues want her kicked to the curb. They want “new leadership.”

Let’s ponder this for a moment. The 2018 midterm election resulted in more than 100 women will join the House in January 2019. That makes this the Year of the Woman. Or does it?

I happen to believe Pelosi deserves to become speaker when the new Congress convenes next year. Thus, I want to caution the Democratic insurgents that they are dousing their own message if they manage to boot the veteran lawmaker out of the office she presumes is hers for the taking.

I just learned that one of the Democratic insurgents is U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela of Brownsville, who is casting doubt on Pelosi’s intended speakership. He says he believes “new leadership” is in order.

Yes, that’s a man saying it.

Pelosi’s first tenure as speaker (2007-2011) proved to be successful in terms of her organizational skills and her ability to hold her party caucus together. Indeed, she enjoyed far more success at that aspect of her job than her two Republican successors as speaker — John Boehner of Ohio and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — who had to battle with TEA Party and Freedom Caucus members of their own caucus.

It was on Pelosi’s watch that Democrats were able to enact the Affordable Care Act, legislation I consider to be a success.

So now Democrats think they need “new leadership”? They don’t, even though Pelosi has become a favorite punching bag for Republicans to pummel whenever they can find the opportunity. Indeed, one could hear Pelosi’s name in TV ads criticizing Democratic candidates for Congress. Here’s the catch: One of those Democrats, Colin Allred, had been joined at the hip to Pelosi by North Texas U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions; however, Allred defeated the Republican Sessions in the midterm election.

So, is it really a negative to be led by a speaker who knows how to legislate, how to organize an unruly body of lawmakers? I don’t believe so.

My advice to House Democrats? Be very careful if you seek to topple Nancy Pelosi in this Year of the Woman.

Speaker pushes back, finally, against POTUS

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s time in public office is running out, which I guess means he’s able — and willing — now to push back on the president of the United States, a member of his political party.

Donald Trump has said he wants to issue an executive order to rescind “birthright citizenship,” a provision granted by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Ryan, who is not running for re-election to his Wisconsin House seat, says his fellow Republican can’t do that.

Ryan said, “We didn’t like it when (former President Barack) Obama tried changing immigration laws via executive action, and obviously as conservatives we believe in the Constitution. … I’m a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution and I think in this case the 14th Amendment is pretty clear, and that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process.”

There you have it. A key congressional Republican leader has spoken out clearly against a Republican who’s hijacked the party under which he ran for public office.

The 14th Amendment says that anyone born in the United States or naturalized in this country is a citizen. No doubt about it. Thus, an effort to rescind that provision would require, as Ryan noted, “a very, very lengthy constitutional process.”

The president has plenty of executive authority. Trump was generous in his criticism of President Obama over his use of the authority. Changing the Constitution, though, doesn’t fit into the purview of a president affixing his signature to an executive order.

Mr. President, stop this nonsense.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said in an interview with Axios.

Yes, you most certainly do!

Rep. Jordan seeks to follow Speaker Hastert; oh, the irony

This cannot possibly be happening. But it is.

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan wants to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives. The current speaker, Paul Ryan, isn’t running for re-election. Ryan has endorsed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as his successor, according to The Hill.

That hasn’t dissuaded the young Freedom Caucus co-founder, Jordan, from joining the speaker fray in the fight to become the person who is second in line to presidential succession.

But … this is a richly ironic candidacy. It has nothing to do with Jordan’s legislative record. It has everything to do with, um, sex!

Jordan has been accused by several former Ohio State University wrestlers of looking the other way while these athletes were being sexually abused by a team doctor. Jordan denies the accusations categorically. Still, they are mounting up, much like the women who accused a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice of abusing them when they were much younger.

The irony? It goes like this: A former U.S. House speaker, Dennis Hastert, pleaded guilty to a felony charge related to the abuse of young boys he coached many years ago in an Illinois high school. Hastert wasn’t charged specifically with sexual abuse, as the statute of limitations had expired. He did admit to doing so, however, during his sentencing.

I just find it strange, weird and oh, so ironic that Jordan would seek the same office once held by someone who also got himself into deep doo-doo over a sexual abuse matter.

You also can bet the farm that Democrats are going to use Rep. Jordan’s own set of (alleged) troubles against him as they seek to re-capture control of the House of Representatives in this fall’s midterm election.

Will there be an ultimate insult with a Putin visit?

Let’s try to wrap our minds around this scenario, if we dare.

Vladimir Putin appears to have been invited to visit the Donald Trump this fall at the White House. The president has sent the invitation in the wake of that hideous press conference in Helsinki, an event that has prompted bipartisan condemnation over the president’s failure to stand up to Putin’s attempt to interfere with our 2016 presidential election.

One of the customs of these state visits is to have the visiting “dignitary” speak to a joint session of Congress.

Do you suppose it is possible that Trump — along with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who extends the invitation — would have the gall to invite Vladimir Putin to darken the door of the Capitol Building?

Think about that for just a moment.

Putin sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. He launched an attack on our democratic process.

Do you think the president has any hint, any glimmer of understanding of what that entails? Do you believe he understands the hideous irony of having his pal Putin speak to the nation from that chamber?

I don’t know this as fact, but my strong hunch is that Trump hasn’t a clue. He has no idea of how such an insult would play to many of us out here in the country he was elected to lead.

Vladimir Putin is a killer. He is a trained spook. He once described the fall of the Soviet Union as one of the darkest episodes of his life. He is an enemy of the United States. He wants to undermine our system of government. He wants to tear apart our alliances.

If this thug is allowed to stand at the podium in the House of Representatives, he will leave an indelible stench in the halls of the very government he has attacked.

‘Haven’t paid … close attention’? Really, Mr. Speaker?

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan needs to be called out for telling a lie. So, I think I’ll do that.

He said this today in response to a question about whether he had faith in Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt:

“Frankly I haven’t paid that close attention to it … I don’t know enough about what Pruitt has or has not done to give you a good comment.”

Really and truly, Mr. Speaker? He is saying that all this tumult over EPA Administrator Pruitt’s mounting ethical troubles have gone unnoticed by the nation’s third-in-line for the presidency. He hasn’t paid “close attention to it,” he said.

Good grief, Mr. Speaker. Do you expect anyone to believe this?

I am quite certain he knows quite enough to make a comment on Pruitt’s troubles. He just doesn’t want to say anything about it.

Let me refresh his memory: Pruitt secured a dirt-cheap rental agreement for himself and his wife from a lobbyist who represents a company that is subject to EPA rules and regulations; Pruitt has been spending extravagantly for such things as a “secure telephone booth” in his office; his travel tabs have been exorbitant as well.

These are ethical matters that keep on piling up.

It’s been in all the papers. Cable news networks have been reporting on these matters.

The speaker of the House hasn’t heard enough about it to make a comment, to answer a reporter’s simple and direct question?

I don’t believe the speaker is telling the truth.

‘Spygate’ continues to fizzle out

I guess you can add lame-duck U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan to the list of notable Republican politicians who think damn little of Donald Trump’s bogus allegation of “spying” on his 2016 presidential campaign.

Granted, Ryan’s dismissal of the president’s contention is tepid. He must be seeking to deter the wrath that could come at him from the White House if he speaks the unvarnished truth.

Which is this: Trump has made up a scenario in which he accuses the FBI of planting a “spy” in his campaign for “political purposes.”

According to Politico: Ryan’s pushback, delicate as it was, is risky. When House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) first dismissed Trump’s “spygate” theory last week, Trump allies pummeled him for days. Ryan’s comments, and his subsequent defense of Gowdy, is already igniting the ire of the president’s most ardent defenders.

The FBI reportedly used a confidential informant to seek verification of reports that the Russians were meddling in the 2016 election. It’s a standard practice that the FBI has been using for decades. Trump, though, decided to fabricate — imagine my non-surprise! — a phony story that the FBI was trying to undercut his presidential campaign.

Ryan said there is no evidence of “spying.” He also has weighed in on the stupidity of Trump’s supposed constitutional authority to pardon himself. He advises the president against doing so. Imagine that!

Trump is lying through his teeth yet again. I am hopeful — although I am not necessarily expecting it — that the speaker will unleash a “pants on fire!” tirade against the president before he bows out of public office.

GOP House caucus stampedes lame-duck speaker

It’s no secret that the U.S. House of Representatives Republican majority at times can turn into an unruly bunch.

The TEA party faction, along with the arch-conservative Freedom Caucus, drove former Speaker John Boehner batty enough to make him quit.

Boehner’s successor, Paul Ryan, is getting the same treatment. The House Freedom Caucus helped torpedo a new farm bill for reasons that hardly anything to do with farm policy.

Ryan is a lame duck. He isn’t seeking re-election to the House from Wisconsin. Indeed, his speakership has been no picnic from the get-go. He now is finding it difficult to keep his own partisan troops in line, let alone getting any help from Democratic House members who don’t much like or respect him to begin with.

The farm bill got entangled with immigration, according to The Hill:

The House bill became inextricably linked with immigration after the Freedom Caucus demanded a vote on the conservative measure as moderates neared the 206 signatures needed to force a vote on a separate immigration plan that falls well short of the proposal pushed for by the White House.

Despite leadership offering the group of conservative hardliners a vote on the immigration measure in June, the members refused to back the legislation.

House conservatives seemingly want to poison an important aid to farmers and ranchers with an issue that ought to stand on its own.

As for the speaker, he told the country he had to be dragged kicking and screaming to seek the job he now holds. I guess he meant it.

Speaker Ryan’s remaining time as the Man of the House appears headed for a rocky conclusion.

House chaplain to stay on the job … good deal!

Politicians can and do have second thoughts, yes?

Consider what happened with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision to ask for the resignation of House chaplain the Rev. Patrick Conroy.

He pulled it back. Father Conroy will stay on the job, offering prayers for legislators as they grapple with the issues of the day.

Ryan had incurred considerable national anger when he asked Conroy — a fellow Catholic, as is Ryan — to resign. Ryan hasn’t yet explained his reason for seeking the chaplain’s resignation. Reports have swirled that Father Conroy had offered a prayer that some had taken as criticism of the Republican caucus’s passage of a tax-cut bill that Donald Trump signed into law.

Ryan asked Father Conroy to submit a letter asking the speaker to rescind his request to resign. Conroy did and Ryan accepted it.

As The Hill reported: “I have accepted Father Conroy’s letter and decided that he will remain in his position as Chaplain of the House,” Ryan said. “My original decision was made in what I believed to be the best interest of this institution. To be clear, that decision was based on my duty to ensure that the House has the kind of pastoral services that it deserves.

 “It is my job as speaker to do what is best for this body,” Ryan added, “and I know that this body is not well served by a protracted fight over such an important post.”

The speaker is correct that the House need not be battered by a “protracted fight” over the chaplain.

Except that Ryan started the fight by issuing the resignation request in the first place.

I am one American who is demanding an explanation from Ryan why he picked the fight with the priest. Please tell us, Mr. Speaker, that your initial request had nothing to do with partisan politics.

Now it’s the House chaplain who’s on the hot seat

It’s not every day that the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives finds his or her name in the news.

The Rev. Patrick Conroy has just entered a new realm of celebrity status. House Speaker Paul Ryan asked Fr. Conroy to resign — but he hasn’t told the chaplain why he wants him out.

What’s going on here? Why push the House’s spiritual leader out of the way?

Fr. Conroy, a Jesuit priest, has served as chaplain since 2011; then-Speaker John Boehner, selected him.

Boehner left office. Ryan — another Catholic — succeeded him as the Man of the House. Now, Ryan wants Fr. Conroy to hit the road.

The New York Times reports: Father Conroy’s resignation is all the more contentious in Catholic circles because Mr. Ryan is a Catholic conservative, whereas Father Conroy is a Jesuit, a branch that is viewed by some as more liberal.

To his huge credit, Fr. Conroy has declined to engage in that discussion.

I certainly understand that we are functioning in highly contentious times these days. To ask the chaplain of the House, the fellow who opens congressional sessions with an invocation seems to take contentiousness to a new level.

Speaker Ryan not only owes the chaplain an explanation, but he ought to give offer one as well to the rest of us. He doesn’t need reminding, but I’ll do so anyway: The speaker works for us.

Those of us who pay for the People’s House deserve an explanation, too. Come clean, Mr. Speaker.

‘I’d rather be a vegetarian’

Paul Ryan is giving up one of the most powerful political offices on Earth.

Who is going to succeed him as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives? It won’t be U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Clarendon (Texas) Republican who came to the House in 1995 after winning the 13th Congressional District office the previous year.

Thornberry was part of the Contract With America team led by insurgent firebrand Newt Gingrich, who went on to become speaker for a couple of congressional sessions.

A quote is attributed to Thornberry, who came from a Texas Panhandle ranching family, that sums up his interest in the speakership. “I’d rather be a vegetarian,” he reportedly said after John Boehner quit the speakership some years ago.

To be honest, Thornberry strikes me as more of a follower than a leader. Yes, he chairs the House Armed Services Committee (for now). I’m beginning to think there’s an increasing chance someone else will chair that panel when the next Congress convenes in January 2019; that “someone else” well could be a Democrat.

Thornberry has served in the House for 23 years. He is not prone to making himself available to the media for constant Q&A, which is what he would face as speaker of the House. He has been for much of his time on Capitol Hill a classic back bencher.

Would he like to be speaker? This isn’t even a serious question.

But … they’re asking it of the Texas Panhandle Republican anyhow.

How does ‘Speaker Thornberry’ sound?