In a continuation of the same absence of progress on President Trump’s agenda exhibited thus far this year by the House and more dismally by the Senate, Speaker Ryan announced on Thursday that it will be more business as usual after they return from their August recess.
Ryan declared they will miss the September 30th deadline for approving new funding for 2018, acknowledging that he will be offering limited stop-gap spending bills for several months.
Before heading off for their summer vacation that is provided the thinly-disguised cover of an opportunity to interact with constituents, Ryan made the announcement that the House was “far ahead of the pace.” No delay of their recess timeline in order to do some real work was needed.
Now that there’s just a couple of weeks or so left before that recess wraps up, he’s adding a “but,” – “except for the 2018 spending bill, that is.” Of course that spending bill is the one that is supposed to include a paltry but symbolic $1.6 billion to begin border wall construction. Is Ryan going to include that in the stop-gap bills? Of course not.
Ryan seems to be positioning himself and the House for a fight that will be increasingly complicated by the calendar and more favorable to the Democrats. They’ll argue that the process is being held up by the “stubborn, racist, mentally-ill president who never should have won” against the “looming boogeyman” of a government shutdown that really isn’t.
Then again, if Ryan has completely shifted from a purchased made-man Speaker to a representative of the people who is onboard with the President’s agenda, he could be attempting to take the pressure off of the President and the tool of the impending shutdown away from the Democrats, signaling in advance that there is no threat and that he’s going to make sure President Trump has all the time he needs to get his agenda passed.
That would be the kind of shift that would spell success for Republicans now and in the 2018 midterms. It would even boost Ryan in his increasingly precarious perch atop the House hierarchy. It’s also not the type of conduct we’re likely to see from the tool of the establishment, Speaker Ryan.
Ryan also vowed that Congress will meet its deadline to raise the debt ceiling, the non-existent federal government’s borrowing limit, saying he was “really not that worried” about it. Ryan told CNBC, “We will pass a debt limit increase before we reach the debt limit.” A little of that same level of commitment to things that actually improve our nation, such as President Trump’s agenda and border wall would be nice to see.
Bill Hoagland, a Republican who worked for decades for the Senate Budget Committee, said failing to repeal Obamacare led Ryan and McConnell to the mess we’re in now. “Health care sucked up all the oxygen in the room and made it impossible not to be where we are today. Now the likely scenario is that they do a temporary CR, maybe for three or six months, at the same spending levels we have today, while they negotiate new spending caps. Then the appropriators can write a budget and move forward.” And all the while the border wall isn’t being built.
Ryan puts the blame for nothing being done on the Senate, the legislative graveyard where many of the House bills go to die. There is a lot of truth to his claims; there is no doubt that that legislative body is dysfunctional to the extreme and virtually worthless. Still, if being on pace for the House means being stalled just as they are in the Senate, they’re not using the proper metric to gauge their effectiveness. Winning isn’t accomplished by staying abreast of the losers.
Perhaps having the funding bill completed prior to taking time off would have been a more prudent course of action. There’s also the issues of tax reform and infrastructure that could have used some attention and more work time.
It’s quite telling that the first action of the Speaker, even prior to returning to the swamp from Wisconsin, is to make excuses for their anticipated non-performance and adjustments for the upcoming failures. Wisconsin voters must have given him an earful when he was back home. Clearly he wasn’t listening.
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