Sessions Warns Ryan

Ala. senator cautions likely speaker not to defy Americans on immigration, trade

by Brendan Kirby | Updated 23 Oct 2015 at 4:35 PM

So much for Rep. Paul Ryan’s call for “GOP unity.”

Although his likely ascension to Speaker of the House won’t be confirmed until the full vote of the Republican Conference next week, he’s already feeling the heat from prominent Republicans.

Citing Ryan’s positions on liberalized legal immigration and amnesty and the Trans Pacific Partnership, Sen. Jeff Sessions urged that he not abuse his power.

“I believe there’s a great danger to elect a speaker of the House who is the leading advocate for major issues today — trade and immigration — and advocating against the wishes of the American voter,” Sessions, an Alabama Republican, said on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”

Ryan has been a leading advocate of free-trade agreements and looser immigration restrictions. As speaker — and it appears he is on track toward winning that office (the election is next week) — Ryan would be powerfully positioned to advance trade and immigration legislation.

“It’s going to be important that he doesn’t use that office to, I think, override the basic Republicans who elected us,” Sessions said.

Sessions said Ryan could wait until 2017 to cut a deal with a president of either party on “comprehensive immigration reform.”

Sessions was one of a handful of Republican senators who voted against giving President Obama “fast track” authority to negotiate a trade pact with 11 Pacific Rim nations. Ryan, who supported it, said before the vote it would give Congress more influence over the final agreement and provide more transparency and accountability.

Related: Ryan ‘Worst’ on Border, Says Brooks

Asked if any Republican had a role in the negotiations, Sessions said, “I’m not aware of any. This was done by the Obama administration, No. 1.”

Sessions rejected arguments that the 12-nation trade partnership would improve the U.S. economy.

“It’s incorrect, because it’s going to weaken the ability of American businesses to compete effectively,” he said. “It’s going to cost jobs and reduce wages.”

Sessions said Congress should vote on the pact before next year’s election and not delay it, as some have suggested they should.

“If it’s such a good deal, why do they want to keep the American people from having influence on it?” he said. “Why don’t they bring it up during the election so people can vote? … They know it’s unpopular. They know it’s not going to be well-received by Republicans or Democrats.”

The same goes for immigration reform that includes eventual citizenship for illegal immigrants, which could be an area of agreement between a hypothetical Speaker Paul Ryan and a President Hillary Clinton in 2017.

“I think there was a great danger that will happen,” Sessions said.

Sessions also offered a rebuke of his GOP colleagues on a third issue — law and order. Some of Sessions’ usual allies, including Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, are supporting legislation to reduce prison sentences for certain drug offenders.

Sessions noted many states already have moved in that direction.

“The federal government following in that path, I think, is a mistake,” he said. “There just aren’t that many people who will murder anybody, much less murder a policeman, and the more of those that are on the streets, the more murders you’re going to have.”

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