Paul Ryan had harsh words for House Democrats Thursday morning, accusing them of holding a fundraising stunt that diminished the world’s oldest democracy.
At his Thursday press conference, Ryan held up printed copies of a fundraising solicitation. “House Democrats on the House floor. Your contribution will go to the DCCC,” Ryan pointed out. He continued by pointing to each fundraising box in turn, “Fifteen dollars, this one says try giving us 25 bucks, but if you want you can send us 50, a hundred, 250 dollars, 500 dollars, a thousand, because look at what we’re doing on the House floor. Send us money.”
“If this is not a political stunt then why are they trying to raise money off of this? Off of a tragedy. What they’ve called for failed in a committee in the House. The reason I call this a stunt is because they know this isn’t going anywhere. It already failed in the Senate.
“They may not like this fact but this bill couldn’t even get 50 votes in the United States Senate, let alone sixty. Why is that? Why is it that this bill failed on a bipartisan basis in committee and this bill failed on a bipartisan basis in the Senate? Because in this country we do not take away people’s constitutional right without due process. This is not just Republicans saying this. It’s groups like the ACLU who are saying this.
“But more to the point. Our focus needs to be on confronting radical extremism. Terrorism is the issue. Let me say it again, terrorism is the issue and defeating terrorism is our focus in the House. So let me be really clear. We are not going to take away the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. And we’re not going to allow publicity stunts to prevent us from doing our job.”
Ryan went on to say that the House had passed legislation regarding the Zika virus “in the face of this distraction.”
During a Q&A session that followed his comments, Ryan was asked about being shouted down by Democrats Wednesday evening and whether that kind of disrespect might set a bad precedent. “I do worry about the precedent here,” Ryan replied. “I have an obligation as the Speaker of the House to protect this institution. We are the oldest democracy in the world. We are the ballast in the world of free people. And so, when we see our democracy descend in this way, it is not a good sign. It is not a good precedent,” he added.
“Look I’ve been around, I’ve gotten protests…I’ve done the Iowa state fair, you know the soapbox. I’ve done Wisconsin recalls, so that I am used to,” Ryan said. “But on the House floor? No. On the House floor where we have rules, where we have order, where we have a system where democracy is supposed to work its way out in a deliberative, respectful way? No, I did not expect that because…I think what we did is we watched a publicity stunt, a fundraising stunt descend an institution that many of us care a great deal about.”