Your move, Paul Ryan.
“For weeks, behind closed doors the outgoing Speaker of the House has partnered with Democrats and Senate Leadership to craft a monstrosity of a budget deal that includes a clean $1.5 trillion debt ceiling increase, more nondefense spending, and a host of policy provisions that no one except President Obama, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have had a chance to offer input into.
Leadership’s determination to ram through this legislation days before we reach the debt limit, with zero input from rank and file Members of Congress, demonstrates precisely what is wrong with Washington, D.C. As I laid out when I introduced the Motion to Vacate the Chair (H.Res 385), the Speaker must not use the legislative calendar to “create crises for the American people, in order to compel Members to vote for legislation.” Nor should the Speaker of the House push through extremely consequential legislation that every American has a stake in without allowing lawmakers a minimum of 72 hours to review it before voting.
Anyone who supports this legislation is complicit in supporting “the way things are” in Washington. We are at an important crossroads in the House of Representatives. We have an opportunity to bring about real reform and fundamentally change the broken system in place on Capitol Hill. Therefore I call on all candidates running for Speaker of the House to oppose this legislation and go on record showing they do not support this approach to governing. Now is the time to demonstrate real leadership by committing to ending the culture of governing by crises and to no longer allow the few to make the decisions for the many. The American people demand better from their elected officials.”
Reporters caught up to Ryan this morning and asked him for his opinion on the budget. Watch the clip below. The process “stinks,” he allowed, echoing Meadows’s point that bad budgets inevitably result when leadership waits until the last second before government funding runs out to pass new appropriations. Kevin McCarthy, who has nothing to lose, is backing the deal but Ryan presumably has no choice but to vote no or else the Freedom Caucus may balk at him becoming Speaker and then we’re back to stalemate in the House.
Is a no vote enough, though? This is an interesting point:
Paul Ryan hates this budget deal. If only he were in a strong enough position to demand its defeat as a condition of his employment…
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) October 27, 2015
He could, in theory, insist that the deal is so bad that the House should abandon it, pass a short funding bill of a few months to keep things going until the new Speaker is seated, and then the two parties can negotiate a better deal under his leadership. If Boehner refuses, fine — then Ryan drops out of the Speaker race and the caucus can go forward with someone else. It’s revealing that Meadows didn’t issue that ultimatum, insisting instead that Ryan merely vote no to signal his disapproval. That’s a minor demand; no doubt Boehner is fully encouraging Ryan to oppose the bill behind the scenes in the name of building a bit of goodwill with conservatives. Supposedly the Freedom Caucus is expecting a “honeymoon” period with Speaker Ryan after he takes the gavel. The fact that Meadows isn’t demanding that Ryan go to the mat by doing everything he can to block the bill seems to support that idea. It’s an olive branch. Ryan would be a fool not to take it.
Exit question via Dan Foster: Would this budget deal have been this bad if Meadows and the Freedom Caucus hadn’t pushed Boehner out? The reason it’s two years instead of one and concedes so much to the Democrats is chiefly because Boehner no longer has any fear of reprisals from the right. He made a bad long-term deal in order to take this topic off the table for his protege, Ryan, when he replaces him as Speaker.