In terms of Congressional GOP unity, their best hope. To everyone else, the new Speaker of the House.
Late last Thursday night, news started to trickle out that Paul Ryan would accept the soon-to-be vacant Speaker of the House. After weeks of turmoil among Republicans over who would be the best choice for Speaker after current Speaker Rep. John Boehner said he would be retiring later this week, many within the GOP feel Rep. Ryan could usher in a new era of cooperation among the divided Republican Caucus. So who is this guy that’s going to be our next Speaker of the House? Well, let’s find out!
Ok, so seriously, who the hell is Paul Ryan?
Paul Ryan is a Republican Representative from Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District and the Chairman of the House’s Ways and Means Committee (ie the committee that discusses tax legislation in the House).
Why does his name sound so familiar?
That’s probably because in 2012, Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney chose Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate against incumbents Barack Obama and Joe Biden. As you now know, their campaign didn’t go so well…
So what makes Rep. Paul Ryan so special?
Unlike Rep. Kevin McCarthy – who was originally tapped to be the next Speaker of the House – Rep. Ryan looks to have the backing of both the “Republican Establishment” and a majority of Republicans on the Far-Right (aka The Freedom Caucus).
So then everyone in the GOP is backing Rep. Ryan as Speaker of the House?
Well… not EVERYONE. Granted, while Rep. Ryan definitely has more backing from the Freedom Caucus than Rep. McCarthy did, not everyone is on board with a Paul Ryan Speakership. While he did get a “super majority” of the Freedom Caucus’ vote, he did fall short of the 80% approval which would have made it an official endorsement.
Ok so what is the current divide between the GOP?
It’s less of a divide in policy and more of a divide in strategy. Many members in the GOP – specifically from the Freedom Caucus – believe that the GOP should hold-off on passing critical pieces of government legislation (ie funding government projects, creating a Congressional budget, raising the debt ceiling, ect) and use it as leverage to push conservative legislation.
Then there are those in the Republican Party (ie moderates), that don’t believe in the before mentioned strategy. For them, it’s reckless and insane to use vital government policy as a tool to push their own agenda. And for the most part, they’re absolutely right!
When Rep. John Boehner was Speaker of the House, the majority of the conflicts between him and the Far-Right were over this strategy.
So why in the Hell does everyone think Rep. Paul Ryan will fare any better?
Because in most circles, Rep. Ryan is considered as a “policy wonk.” Originally many political insiders – including us – thought Rep. Ryan wouldn’t take the job because Speaker of the House has less to do with hashing out nitty-gritty policy details and more to do with managing different Congressional caucuses within the House.
The theory goes that groups like the Freedom Caucus consistently hold-off on approving vital pieces of government legislation because for years their ideas have been largely ignored – or at best just been paid just lip service – by “Establishment Republicans.” Many believe with Rep. Ryan’s strong policy background, he could get to the heart of the concerns and bring Republicans onto the same page through specific policy initiatives. That way the internal fighting within the GOP, and more importantly holding-off on voting for crucial government legislation, would stop because their ideas would be put into active legislation. Well, that’s the hope anyway.
So what’s Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s first task?
The first order of business under a Paul Ryan Speakership would be to raise the debt ceiling before November 3rd. If they can’t the US government would go into default and according to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew…
So yeah… get on that then.
[UPDATE: Yeah… it looks like Rep. Ryan doesn’t have to worry about the debt ceiling or the budget for the time being.]
(Photo Credit: PaulDavisRyan Instagram, Time Magazine, Google Images)