Speaker of the House Paul Ryan

Brian Savage '18, Staff Writer

Paul Ryan is the representative of Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district. At the end of October, the former Speaker John Boehner resigned from his position, and the Republican party was tasked with nominating a candidate for the responsibility of Speaker of the House. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy nominated Ryan for Speaker, and after some convincing he accepted. Speaker Ryan is 45 years of age and currently lives in Janesville, Wisconsin with his wife and three children. He is a member of the Republican party, the party that has a majority in both houses. Ryan previously served as chairman of both the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Budget Committee.

Ryan’s work on these committees has shaped the philosophy he will bring to his role as speaker. It is the role of the ways and means committee to be the prime tax-writing center for all new legislation involving the expansion or diminishment of taxes. The House Budget Committee deals in dollars and cents, being responsible for writing the budget for the House and the federal budgeted program’s funding. He stood as the ways chairman since the beginning of 2015 and the budget chairman since 2011. Representative Ryan has since focused his political stances around economics and fiscal conservatism. Lastly, Ryan in 2012 was former Governor Mitt Romney’s running mate for the 2012 presidential election. A centerpiece of the campaign was lower taxes for all Americans and a serious approach to the national debt.

The appointment of a new Speaker is the second hardest interview in American politics, only proceeding the presidency. The process sees the majority party nominating a representative to be the Speaker and lead the House of Representatives. The Speakers must act in a somewhat bipartisan capacity, however, because of the need to pass legislation on both sides of the aisle. The majority party in the House still has its own partisan leader, who is currently Representative Kevin McCarthy of California. He was suspected by many to be the go to option of the Republicans for the nomination of the speaker. But as his appointment to the position was finalized, he withdrew his bid for the seat and proceeded by nominating Ryan for the role as Speaker of the House. Ryan was initially not interested in the position; however, his stance changed when he was informed that many representatives that were not qualified were throwing their name into the pool of nominations. Ryan then embraced his role as the top figure in Congress.

It is the role of the speaker to lead the House of Representatives and to be the deciding factor in what legislation is moved to the floor. He or she holds a key role in American politics and is third in line to the presidency. One of the predominant powers of the speaker is to determine who, when, and why a debate in the House may be held through the power of leading the Rules Committee of the House. During a bill debate, the discussion can follow to different formats: an open rule or a closed rule. An open ruling entails that discussion is not limited to the floor and open discussion is supported. The opposite, a closed ruling, means that a debate has predetermined factors and can be judged by the Speaker at any time during the arguments. As one can gather, these many powers and roles of the speaker form some new emerging challenges for Representative Ryan and his new office as Speaker. Speaker Paul Ryan plans to enact new legislation benefiting both sides of the political sphere (contributing vast new political policies not present in the era of Speaker John Boehner) and to address developing political issues. An emerging top issue on the policy agenda for Speaker Ryan is the Syrian Refugee crisis.

After the attacks in Paris, many citizens are questioning the previous policies for accepting refugees from foreign nations. With the confirmation of the leader of the attacks, Ahmad Almohammad, being able to freely move between Syria and Belgium through Greece, many citizens are now worried about the American policy for granting asylum and refugee status to refugees. Many suspect that the current system will make it easy for terrorists to come to America through the general population of refugees. In response to the citizens’ worries, Ryan expedited a bill to reach the floor named the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015, which is defined by what means, regulations, and checks are required on refugees from Syria and Iraq before they are granted asylum by the United States. The American SAFE Act, for short, was recently voted on by the House on November 17, and the House ruled in favor of the Act . It is on its way to the Senate. The Act applies checks on refugees of Syria and Iraq. This test includes threat interview analysis by the Homeland Security Director, the FBI Director, the Director of National Intelligence, and Congressional Committees. Another restraint is that all four groups need to vote unanimously to support the refugee, or the refugee will be denied refugee status into the United States. A goldilocks stance has not been reached, with Democrats saying it is impossible and Republicans defining the act as a necessity.

One program Ryan is defending and disrupting is welfare. He plans to cut funding for 109.6 million Americans and change the system to be much more fiscally conservative. Ryan holds the belief it is the government’s obligation to reduce poverty; however, welfare hurts the reduction of poverty more than it helps by creating a safety net that is impossible for those on welfare to get out of. Therefore, Ryan plans on enacting and creating more federally-funded jobs and programs to help the impoverished get careers in the workplace. One of these federally-funded programs is entitled Opportunity Grant. This program would compile different elements of organizations to help those struggling to get a secure job.

Ryan has hit the ground running imposing a new philosophy to the U.S. Congress. Plagued by inactivity in the Boehner era, Ryan plans on making bold reform and taking on the key issues first and playing politics second. Under his leadership, the Congress will begin to shift toward conservative economic policy that disrupts Big Government attitudes in the final years of the Obama administration.