Politics & Policy

Paul Ryan Drops Boehner’s ‘No Shutdowns’ Pledge

Ryan meets the press on Capitol Hill, November 3, 2015. (Mark Wilson/Getty)

New House speaker Paul Ryan gave a preview today of how he plans to change congressional GOP tactics when he was asked about the coming fight to fund the federal government beyond December 11.

“This is the legislative branch and the power of the purse rests within the legislative branch and we fully expect that we’re going to exercise that power,” Ryan told reporters Tuesday morning.

That statement marks a break with Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner, who developed a habit of pledging not to pass funding bills that would risk a government shutdown by provoking a presidential veto. The new, firmer stance could potentially put Ryan at odds with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who has also sworn to avoid government shutdowns. But it could also help Ryan mollify the conservative backbenchers who have accused GOP leaders of preemptively surrendering to Obama.

Democrats are already preparing to accuse conservatives of “demand[ing] a shutdown,” as New York’s Chuck Schumer put it Tuesday. “It won’t be over the numbers,” he said. “It would be over the riders.”

#share#Republicans could make high-profile demands, such as the defunding of Planned Parenthood, or they could pursue any number of lesser known policy goals contained in the GOP appropriations bills Senate Democrats successfully filibustered earlier this year. Some Republican lawmakers hope to bundle those bills into an omnibus spending package in December — just as they did last year when Democrats still controlled the upper chamber.

#related#The new speaker has made clear that he regards time as an essential commodity in winning dramatic showdowns with the president. “We should have been meeting months ago to discuss these things, to have a unified strategy going forward,” he said during the brief debate over the debt limit last week.

With that in mind, Ryan may have dropped a hint that he’ll push for modest victories in the coming funding fight. “We have a tough deadline, December 11, [and] we’ve got not a lot of time between now and then,” he said.

— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.

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