In this Ryan Rundown: Speaker Paul Ryan's week was off to a strong start with an early victory in the House passage of a multiyear transportation bill with some bipartisan support. The funding plan authorized around $340 billion over six years, with a last-minute amendment that could add another $40 billion to the total.
And Ryan's chosen successor for the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee, U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, beat out challenger U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, in a closed-door meeting of the House Steering Committee. The vote is predicted to be the last of the Steering Committee in its current form, as Ryan has vowed to overhaul the internal functions of the committee-assigning panel before Thanksgiving.
Despite early wins, some news outlets questioned how long Ryan's honeymoon phase with Republican lawmakers will last. The specter of government shutdown still looms as conservative Republicans remain skeptical of the $80 billion two-year budget ahead of the Dec. 11 deadline. In response, Ryan formed an advisory group that will hold weekly sessions to discuss policy items like Planned Parenthood funding and increased control of the Environmental Protection Agency, which are sticking points for some conservative contingents.
The Janesville Republican was the target of criticism from U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, for his pledge to delay immigration reform until President Barack Obama leaves office in 2017. Durbin pointed to Ryan's previous support of a "path to earned legalization," excerpted from a speech in 2013, entreating the speaker to support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Finally, Ryan's biggest hurdle may be overcoming a 41-year low in congressional approval. Shortly after he assumed the speakership, a new Gallup poll found 86 percent of Americans disapprove of the U.S. Congress. Just 8 percent of Republican respondents said they approved of Congress, dipping below a similarly low 11 percent approval from Democrats, and 13 percent from independents.