Ryan faces tough road as the new speaker

Morgan Engels, Staff Writer

Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan was elected earlier this year as the 54th Speaker of the House. The vote took place nearly a month to the day of Former House Speaker John Boehner’s announcement of his resignation.

Boehner, 65, announced his resignation amid growing tension in an already fractured Republican party. The announcement came before a planned vote by Tea Party conservatives to oust him as House Speaker.

Boehner had faced intense scrutiny for several years now by Tea Party conservatives, who felt he had become too cooperative with the Obama administration. The breaking point came during discussions to over funding for Planned Parenthood, with Tea Party conservatives hoping to completely defund the women’s health clinic.
In the wake of Boehner’s announcement, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy became the early favorite to succeed him. However, hew was forced to drop out following comments he made regarding the Congressional investigation into the Benghazi Compound Attacks.

In need of a new candidate, Republicans turned their attention to Ryan (R-Janesville), with many crediting him with the ability to unite the party. Ryan was initially reluctant to run, but after negotiations with party leaders in which he was able to unify the majority of the Republican Caucus, Ryan agreed to run.

Ryan was elected House Speaker with 236 of 247 Republicans voting for him, a sign of unity within the party rarely seen during the past half decade.

Just 15 days after Ryan was voted House Speaker ISIS attacked Paris, intensifying the debate over Syrian refugees, as it was discovered some of the terrorists involved had posed as refugees to enter Paris. As a result, 31 governors, all but one a Republican, came out in opposition of Syrians seeking refuge in their states. Countless other elected officials, most prominently House Speaker Ryan, called for a halt to Syrian refugee programs.

In Congress, Ryan helped orchestrate and pass a bill, 289-137, which put a temporary halt on President Obama’s Syrian refugee program that, as announced in September, would admit 10,000 refugees into the country over the next year. The passage came despite repeated attempts by the White House to ensure Congress that the vetting process for refugees is indeed thorough, as well as threats to veto the bill.

Most shocking, 47 Democrats broke away from the White House and voted alongside the Republicans. These votes gave Ryan and the Republicans enough support to override a veto from the White House. The move stands as evidence of Ryan’s ability to work across party lines, a strength he was said to have when his name first came up as a potential candidate for House Speaker. Despite passing in the House with this overwhelming support, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid seems confident Senate will not pass the bill.

In addition to refugee issue, Ryan and the House of Representatives have until Dec. 11 to pass a spending bill for the next year. If the Syrian Refugee bill fails to make it past the Senate or ends up back in the House there exists a very real possibility of debates interfering with the passage of the budget, resulting in a government shutdown.

Mere hours before Ryan was elected House Speaker, the Senate passed a two-year spending deal that had already cleared the House, and which was signed by President Obama Nov. 2. While many believed that the deal would prevent a government shutdown, it really only lowers the risk of one. Tackling the budget should serve as a true test of Ryan’s ability to unite the party. Previous efforts by Boehner proved to be extremely devisive for the party.