Why Is Paul Ryan So Quiet on Shutdown?

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 04: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) heads for a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC. 'This isn't some damn game,' Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said about the current federal government shutdown.
National Journal
Billy House
Oct. 7, 2013, 5:13 p.m.

As the show­down over the budget drags on, one name con­spicu­ously miss­ing in the daily back-and-forth between Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats is that of House Budget Com­mit­tee Chair­man Paul Ry­an.

The Wis­con­sin Re­pub­lic­an — who last year was a house­hold name who scarcely could go a news cycle without a men­tion as Mitt Rom­ney’s vice pres­id­en­tial run­ning mate — has been largely si­lent. While oth­er po­ten­tial 2016 pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates have been out front — namely Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas — Ry­an has stayed in the back­ground.

“He doesn’t want to be part of this,” said Rep. Sander Lev­in, the rank­ing Demo­crat on the Ways and Means Com­mit­tee. “He doesn’t know where he fits in. With the tea-party guys? No, he doesn’t want to be as­so­ci­ated with them.”

Con­or Sweeney, a spokes­man for Ry­an, says, “Chair­man Ry­an con­tin­ues to work with his col­leagues to forge a budget agree­ment.” His of­fice de­clined an in­ter­view re­quest.

Aides to oth­er top House Re­pub­lic­ans say Ry­an is, in fact, busy in closed-door meet­ings, work­ing to craft the House Re­pub­lic­ans’ strategy and le­gis­la­tion on the debt ceil­ing.

But some say the one­time con­ser­vat­ive darling — nev­er too press-averse (he shared his workouts and the songs on his iPod dur­ing the elec­tion) — is simply ly­ing low in an ef­fort to avoid be­ing tarred by the shut­down.

“Part of the low vis­ib­il­ity might have to do with where he wants to go next: pres­id­ent, speak­er, chair­man of Ways and Means,” says G. Wil­li­am Hoag­land, a former GOP Sen­ate Budget Com­mit­tee staffer who is a seni­or vice pres­id­ent at the Bi­par­tis­an Policy Cen­ter. “Each fu­ture po­s­i­tion seems to re­com­mend that it’s best to lay low and work be­hind the scenes, be a work­horse, not a show horse right now.”

Ry­an has done a few in­ter­views. In one chat Fri­day with his home-state pa­per, the Mil­wau­kee Journ­al-Sen­tinel, Ry­an ap­peared to try to put some dis­tance between him­self and the cur­rent crisis, caused by the House and Sen­ate’s in­ab­il­ity to agree on a bill to re­start gov­ern­ment fund­ing and end the shut­down.

“I am not the Ap­pro­pri­ations chair­man,” he told the pa­per. “The Budget Com­mit­tee does not do that. That is not my Budget Com­mit­tee’s jur­is­dic­tion.”

Ry­an also dis­missed cri­ti­cism that he has not been front and cen­ter.

“Some­times I think it is im­port­ant to do your job and try to find a solu­tion. If I have something mean­ing­ful to say, I will go out and say it in the press,” he said. “I am hunkered down and do­ing my job with my staff, with lead­er­ship try­ing to come up with solu­tions to this prob­lem.”

As re­cently as two weeks ago, Ry­an had said in an in­ter­view he did not think a shut­down would hap­pen, and that it would not “serve our in­terests,” mean­ing Re­pub­lic­ans’ ef­forts to delay or kill the Af­ford­able Care Act.

On Monday, a Ry­an aide did not re­spond when asked if the law­maker now dis­agrees with Pres­id­ent Obama that Speak­er John Boehner should al­low a vote on a “clean” fund­ing bill stripped of anti-Obama­care lan­guage.

Still, Ry­an him­self provided an in­dic­a­tion last week of what he really thinks. At a photo event staged with House Re­pub­lic­ans, he in­dic­ated that budget and debt-ceil­ing talks should be linked, in a way that could in­volve broad­er dis­cus­sions over areas such as en­ti­tle­ment and tax re­form.

“Most budget agree­ments in the past have al­ways in­volved debt-lim­it in­crease,” Ry­an said. “We think that’s the for­cing mech­an­ism.”

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4491) }}

What We're Following See More »
HE ‘WILL NEVER BE PRESIDENT’
Warren Goes After Trump Yet Again
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

When it comes to name-calling among America's upper echelon of politicians, there may be perhaps no greater spat than the one currently going on between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump. While receiving an award Tuesday night, she continued a months-long feud with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Calling him a "small, insecure moneygrubber" who probably doesn't know three things about Dodd-Frank, she said he "will NEVER be president of the United States," according to her prepared remarks."We don't know what Trump pays in taxes because he is the first presidential nominee in 40 years to refuse to disclose his tax returns. Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out that he’s worth a lot less money than he claims." It follows a long-line of Warren attacks over Twitter, Facebook and in interviews that Trump is a sexist, racist, narcissistic loser. In reply, Trump has called Warren either "goofy" or "the Indian"—referring to her controversial assertion of her Native American heritage. 

FIRST CHANGE IN FOUR DECADES
Congress Passes Chemical Regulations Overhaul
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The House on Tuesday voted 403-12 "to pass an overhaul to the nation’s chemical safety standards for the first time in four decades. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act aims to answer years of complaints that the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the necessary authority to oversee and control the thousands of chemicals being produced and sold in the United States. It also significantly clamps down on states’ authorities, in an effort to stop a nationwide patchwork of chemical laws that industry says is difficult to deal with."

Source:
NO MORE INDEPENDENT VOTERS?
GOP Could Double Number of Early Primaries
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Leaders of the Republican Party have begun internal deliberations over making fundamental changes to the way its presidential nominees are chosen, a recognition that the chaotic process that played out this year is seriously flawed and helped exacerbate tensions within the party." Among the possible changes: forbidding independent voters to cast ballots in Republican primaries, and "doubling the number of early states to eight."

Source:
LEVERAGE
Kasich Tells His Delegates to Remain Pledged to Him
12 hours ago
THE LATEST

Citing the unpredictable nature of this primary season and the possible leverage they could bring at the convention, John Kasich is hanging onto his 161 delegates. "Kasich sent personal letters Monday to Republican officials in the 16 states and the District of Columbia where he won delegates, requesting that they stay bound to him in accordance with party rules."

Source:
LOST BY HALF A PERCENTAGE POINT
Sanders Wants a Recount in Kentucky
14 hours ago
THE LATEST

Bernie Sanders "signed a letter Tuesday morning requesting a full and complete check and recanvass of the election results in Kentucky ... where he trails Hillary Clinton by less than one-half of 1 percent of the vote. The Sanders campaign said it has asked the Kentucky secretary of state to have election officials review electronic voting machines and absentee ballots from last week's primary in each of the state's 120 counties.

Source:
×