In this week's Ryan Rundown: Speaker Paul Ryan faces delays but then negotiates a thirteenth hour spending deal, avoiding a repeat of the 2013 government shutdown. While the $1.1 trillion bill provides federal funding though September of next year, House Speaker Ryan said"I don't think this is the way government should work."
The last-minute omnibus spending bill led some to compare Ryan's work to that of predecessor John Boehner, who faced criticism from conservatives for compromising with Democrats. Both parties saw wins and losses in the 2,000-plus page bill, including an end to an oil export ban long desired by Republicans, and a continuation of Planned Parenthood funding sought by Democrats.
The measure passed the House 316-113 Friday, with support from all of Wisconsin's delegates, save Democrat Mark Pocan, who joined 95 Republicans and 18 Democrats in voting against the legislation.
Observers say the success of the spending bill could remove barriers to Ryan's 2016 political agenda, which he said will be"inclusive" and focused on policy rather than the politics debated in the presidential election.
While the speaker said he intends to remain neutral as his party selects a presidential candidate, Ryan faced a wave of speculation over his possible involvement in narrowing down the field of candidates ahead of the spring primaries. He called the notion of his being drafted into the race"ridiculous."
And Ryan set a three-month deadline for legislators to draft a"responsible solution" to financial troubles in Puerto Rico. A U.S. territory, Puerto Rico lacks the bankruptcy powers of states, and officials warned the island is unable to meet obligations to creditors.
House Speaker Paul Ryan today was optimistic a partial government shutdown could be avoided.
"I have no reason to believe that we'll have a shutdown," the Janesville Republican told WisPolitics.com this morning.
It looked more likely the appropriation bills package wouldn't be ready until tomorrow. Ryan, navigating his first spending negotiations as GOP House leader, has promised to make the bill public for three days before asking lawmakers to vote on it.
That would push Congress back into a situation of needing to pass another stopgap spending bill to keep the government open as the newest continuing resolution, approved Friday, expires Wednesday.
Nevertheless, Ryan was confident Congress will meet its overall target of adjourning for the year before Christmas.
"That's my goal," he said.
Ryan said one of the biggest differences about his speakership from that of his predecessor, former Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, is his determination to avoid the seemingly annual December showdowns over spending.
"It should never come to this," the former House Budget and House Ways and Means chairman said. "It is not a process that I think is healthy. I am going to endeavor to get the power-of-the-purse process put back on the tracks so it operates the way it's supposed to."
To that end, Ryan promised next year to focus on ensuring the House passes each of the annual appropriations bills separately. Congress traditionally did that to allow full debate on each of the myriad issues that arise when lawmakers hash out how to fund the scores of government departments and independent agencies.
That is part of his commitment to restore "regular order," the process by which legislation is driven by committee chairmen and subcommittee chairmen rather than party leadership.
Ryan said he "bristled when regular order was bypassed" because end-running committee leaders means end-running people who have committed time to becoming experts in individual areas of policymaking.
Experts should be steering the legislative process, he said.
"We need to make sure to decentralize power in Congress, just like we need to in Washington," Ryan said.
Ryan wouldn't tip his hand about what controversial policy riders could survive and which ones could be used to get Dem votes to offset defections from the most conservative House members.
"We'll post the bill when it's ready; it's premature to get into any speculation," he said.
In this week's Ryan Rundown: Facing a Dec. 11 funding deadline, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan pushes a stop-gap measure that gives federal legislators more time to come to an agreement on the long-term funding bill.
Disagreements over policy riders dealing with a variety of issues, as well as resistance from some Republicans, complicate the process. With unity lacking among House conservatives over issues such as Planned Parenthood funding, Speaker Ryan may need to secure the votes of Democrats to pass an omnibus funding bill before the holiday break.
The funding deadline comes a week after Ryan delivered a speech outlining his vision for the House's 2016 legislative agenda. He said he aims to put forth legislation that is wholly counter to that offered by Democrats.
Ryan said the Republican strategy will not be dissuaded by a lack of presidential support. He said the plan will showcase the ideal Republican policy in 2017 and beyond.
The speaker denounced GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's calls for a ban on Muslim entry into the United States, saying the proposed move "is not conservatism ... not what this party stands for." Ryan did not say whether he would support Trump if he wins the party's nomination this spring.
And as details related to the Dec. 2 San Bernardino shooting emerged, Ryan redoubled his support of a move to overhaul the nation's mental health system, calling mental illness a common theme among mass shootings. He said President Barack Obama's proposal to create restrictions on gun purchases similar to the no-fly list used by airlines would violate citizens' rights.
U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, Wednesday backed legislation to replace much of No Child Left Behind.
The bill, which cleared the chamber 85-12, next heads to the president's desk. It was dubbed the "Every Child Succeeds Act" and would pull back the federal government's role in education, allowing, for example, states to set their own guidelines on rating schools and improving them.
Johnson said the bill would "devolve power away from Washington and toward states, communities, and the teachers and parents who are at the front line of education."
Baldwin touted several provisions in the bill that she's pushed. Those include a grant program to help audit and streamline state and local testing systems; directing grant money to support the use of technology to improve student achievement; and letting money for after-school programs support career and technical education and workforce readiness.
"I believe that every child deserves a high-quality, free public education -- a right that is enshrined in Wisconsin's constitution," Baldwin said. "While today's step is long overdue and one to be celebrated, our work to ensure that all kids have an equal opportunity for education does not end here."
House Speaker Paul Ryan laid out a Republican game plan for 2016 and beyond to replace Obamacare, overhaul the tax code and let states assume more control of social programs.
Along the way, the Janesville Republican took several swipes at President Obama.
"I don't think many people are walking away from this presidency thinking, 'That went well," Ryan said during a speech Thursday at the Library of Congress.
In one of his first major addresses since taking over the speakership from John Boehner last month, Ryan said the Republican Party is frustrated it hasn't held a national majority in seven years. And it's even more frustrating, Ryan said, because Obama has not changed the country for the better.
Among the first steps toward correcting that problem, Ryan said, is repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. He did not provide specifics, but he made a promise Republicans will offer a plan that cuts away what he described as the act's mandates, restrictions and red tape.
"Next year," Ryan said, "we will unveil a plan to replace every single word of Obamacare."
Ryan also went after the tax code, saying it's riddled with loopholes and complicated to the point that no one can understand it. The goal, Ryan said, should be creating jobs and raising wages, but a code that sets a rate of "effectively 44.6 percent" on successful small businesses presents a barrier that needs to be removed.
He said he expects people to fiercely defend the loopholes, but declared he's ready for the fight.
"All I can say is we will not be cowed," Ryan said. "We are not here to smooth things over. We are here to shake things up."
The speaker today said Republicans need to fix all of the country's social programs so people who can work do work. He said the feds should rely on states to develop and test the best approaches.
But the longest applause was for Ryan's call that the country develop a "21st century military" because, he said, a strong military protects, rather than threatens, the peace.
Republicans will succeed next year and after that, Ryan said, by showing people they have a choice beyond what Dems are offering.
"Our No. 1 goal," he said, "is to put together a complete alternative to the left's agenda."
In this week's Ryan Rundown: U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan asked for a moment of silence for the victims of Wednesday's mass shooting in San Bernadino, California, during the Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony later that day.
The massacre occurred less than a week after a mass shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood. Ryan called for an overhaul of the nation's mental illness health system on Tuesday, calling mental illness a "common denominator" in violent incidents.
The speaker faces pressure from some Democrats, whose calls for an end to the House investigation of Planned Parenthood intensified following the shooting.
Ryan may need the votes of Democrats to pass a spending bill ahead of the Dec. 12 deadline to avoid a default on federal debt. A contingent of Republicans aim to include riders addressing several issues, including Planned Parenthood funding, and the intake of Syrian refugees.
In the wake of last month's terrorist attacks in Paris, Ryan said it is "better to be safe than sorry" with refugees from the conflict-torn region. Predicting additional attacks similar to what occurred in France, the Janesville Republican advocated for a bill increasing scrutiny of refugees from Syria and Iraq, which passed the House 289-137.
And in a ceremonial move, Ryan sent President Barack Obama a formal invitation to the Jan. 12 State of the Union, the president's last.
U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner says the EPA's new renewable fuel standards requirements should be "immediately reversed."
But the Wisconsin BioFuels Association says the agency's announcement yesterday is a "step in the right direction."
The rules dictate the amount of renewable fuels and biofuels that need to be included in the nation's fuel supply. They stem from a 2007 federal law that requires the EPA to set a yearly renewable fuel standard, or RFS.
The EPA had originally sought a lower requirement when it proposed its standards earlier this year, but the finalized rules announced yesterday mark an increase from that proposal.
The EPA had earlier called for setting those requirements at 16.3 billion gallons of renewable fuel this year and 17.4 billion gallons next year. Now, those required volumes will be at 16.93 billion gallons in 2015 and 18.11 billion gallons in 2016.
Those volumes, however, are significantly lower than what Congress had set when it approved the requirements in 2007 -- standards that the EPA has said aren't realistic. Those standards would require 22.25 billion gallons of total renewable fuel in 2016, a number that would increase to 36 billion gallons by 2022.
Erik Huschitt, the WBFA president, said the group is glad the EPA's final rule is "significantly closer to compliance" with the 2007 law. Yet he noted the agency is "still not meeting the statutory amount set by Congress."
"Big Oil's dominance of our nation's retail marketplace would deny consumers market access to cleaner-burning, renewable fuel," he said. "The RFS helps ensure ethanol isn't cut from the marketplace."
But Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, said the EPA's action is a "slap in the face to the millions of Americans who don't want" ethanol in their gas.
"Increasing the ethanol mandate is a dangerous decision that will lead to misfueling, damaged engines, and more emissions and pollution," he said. "It is a giveaway to corn farmers and ethanol refiners that guarantees that Americans will be paying more to drive their cars, mow their lawns, and plow their driveways."