This morning, Speaker Ryan took to the airwaves, talking with Bill Bennett to answer some of the questions surrounding the spending bill that the House passed last week. He also talked about his plan for 2016. Listen to the full interview here.
Why are spending bills always at the last second? Why was it done this way?
“I hate omnibus bills and I don’t like doing these last-second bills. … The reason this year is because Harry Reid filibustered all but one appropriations bills and our own caucus seized up in the middle of the summer, unable to pass any appropriations bills because of some poison pill amendments. … We have a new commitment in the Senate to not block appropriation bills and by having this budget agreement that my predecessor put in place we no longer have a dispute over the sequester. The reason for the filibusters is gone. By getting the slate cleaned now, by getting this behind us, we can start our appropriations process early next year and do it the right way, individual bills, all 12 bills, open up the process...do it the way the Founders intended in the first place.”
“The other thing was, we weren’t going to get any kind of long-term extension or continuing resolution. Our biggest concern was the military. The thing that was accomplished in the budget agreement passed a few months ago was to prevent the sequester from hitting the military. More than half the money in this omnibus goes to the military. We didn’t want to use the military as a political pawn. We didn’t want to sacrifice the additional resources we are able to achieve for the military in this game. We wanted to get on to making 2016 a more productive year.”
When will we see regular order?
“Now that we’re done with 2015, we’ll see it when we get back right away. In January, we are going back to regular order.”
Why not shut the government down?
“We didn’t want to hurt the military. Shutting it down deprives the troops of their pay. It deprives the men and women who are out there fighting for us of their resources. You’ve heard me as a strong, strong critic of Obama’s foreign policy and his ISIS policy. We have to go on offense in the war on terror. We have to go on offense internationally. By shutting the government down, you are bringing the military to a screeching halt. We do not want to use the men and women in our uniform as political pawns in this game. We want to get this behind us. “
What wins did conservatives get in the bill?
“We got some important wins for conservatives. We want to bank those wins and then come back and fight for more, and get the military the resources they need, which is one of the biggest wins we got in the omnibus in the first place. For 40 years, we’ve banned the export of oil from America. By lifting the ban permanently, we can cut off Putin, we can help give Europe another source of oil, we can displace OPEC from dictating the terms of the international oil markets, we can displace Venezuela, we can create up to a million new jobs in America. It’s like 100 Keystone pipelines. The irony of this is we lifted the ban on crude oil exports the week after Obama goes to Paris and does this climate change accord. I think the irony is fairly sweet.”
Why did the omnibus fund Planned Parenthood?
“First of all, we did put the riders on Planned Parenthood to prevent them from having any money going toward abortion - like we have in the past - and we maintained all of our Hyde Amendment protections for pro-life. So we maintained our pro-life riders, but what we realized was the Planned Parenthood defunding bill was going to get filibustered in the Senate, so we weren’t even going to get past the U.S. Senate with a Planned Parenthood bill in the omnibus, so we used the one tool we could use to prevent a filibuster and advance this bill, which is called reconciliation. So we have Planned Parenthood defunded in the reconciliation bill. You can use this bill once a year and we used it for this.”
Does the Packers’ success depend on having an Ice Bowl?
“It usually helps, especially in postseason...except for the Giants game a few years ago.”
Why is there $1.6 billion for Syrian refugees, but no money for border security?
“$1.6 billion is not simply for Syrian refugees. It’s for the entire refugee program. You remember the unaccompanied children that got dumped onto the border from Honduras and El Salvador? We had to go do emergency legislation...and put new resources on the border in anticipation of that. Well, there’s a fear that could happen again, so that’s what this money is for, to prevent and prepare for any chance that we might have a whole new raft of unaccompanied children getting put on the border. So it’s not for Syrian refugees - it’s for all of those refugee and border issues that may arise. … We passed the Syrian refugee bill in the House. Now the Senate is going to bring it up after the first of the year, and we want them to have a debate and a vote on this. We want the Senate to be on the record for this. We don’t want to tuck it away in a 2,000-page omnibus appropriations bill. We want them to have a vote on it, and make their votes count, and that’s what’s going to happen. … But the issue that we learned about in our intelligence briefings was visa waivers. Any radical with one of 38 national passports can get on a plane today in say, Paris, can get on a plane and come here tomorrow for 90 days, no questions asked. That, we believed, was the biggest problem, and we put that in the omnibus bill.”
How many guest workers does the H2B visa provision add?
“According to the Congressional Budget Office, it will result in less than 10,000 workers coming next year. It’s a one-year provision. It’s a very small provision, which was passed in the Appropriations Committee in July, with unanimous Republican votes. So this is a very small, discrete provision. It’s been laying out there for half a year, passed in July in the light of day, for everyone to see. The reason that this was passed, is because there was some seasonal surge jobs that they can’t find local workers to fill, like the seafood packaging industry in Chesapeake Bay. … This provision says that the person worked at this business within the last three years, they can return without counting against the cap, which is 66,000 workers. There has been so much hyperbole about this one provision pinging around the Internet, but that’s the problem with omnibus appropriations. Big legislation leads to lots of confusion, lots of misinformation. It doesn’t quadruple the program.”
What will see in the new year - big picture?
“You’re going to see us put a bill on the president’s desk going after ObamaCare and Planned Parenthood, so we’ll finally get a bill on his desk to veto. … And you’ll see a return to regular order, where men and women in Congress can bring their bills to the floor, make their amendments in order, and we will run Congress the way the Founders intended it to be run. But the most important thing you’ll see is, we think the country’s headed in the wrong direction. We think Obama has transformed us in a bad way. We owe people an alternative, and that’s exactly what we’re going to lay out.”
Speaker Ryan also discussed these issues last night in an interview with Hugh Hewitt.