Politics

Democrats Rush to Back Ryan

With fractured GOP, Dems may soon hold all the cards

Liberal Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the House’s most ardent advocate for amnesty and other benefits for illegal immigrants, has once again come to the defense of Rep. Paul Ryan, just days before the Wisconsin Republican’s expected ascension to Speaker.

That Ryan enjoys strong support from Speaker John Boehner and Chamber of Commerce-type Republicans isn’t surprising, but the encouragement he’s receiving from Democrats is startling, and perhaps revealing, to many.

Gutierrez said Ryan would “be good for the country” if he became speaker. “He would be good for the Republican Party. Paul Ryan is the kind of individual that would work with people on the other side of the aisle, and that’s what we need.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she looked forward to working with Ryan. She told reporters that Ryan “knows the territory, who knows the issues; that’s helpful.” And Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pronounced himself a “Paul Ryan fan,” adding that the Republican is “one of the people over there that would be reasonable.”

Gutierrez, aware that his aid might not actually help, sought to downplay the move

Gutierrez, aware that his aid might not actually help, recently sought to downplay the move, telling The Washington Post that he “had Republican members who are friends of mine saying, ‘Don’t say anything good about Paul Ryan! Don’t say anything at all about Paul Ryan!’”

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Then Gutierrez cut to the crux, saying, “There’s a small group that wields an inordinate influence and power over the group — They are slaves and captives to Laura Ingraham.”

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Ryan is on track to replace outgoing Boehner on Thursday. So desperate are Republican representatives for a speaker who can unify the fractious caucus that he was able to extract significant concessions in return for his agreeing to take the job.

At a time when the rise of the outsider candidates Ben Carson and Donald Trump is dominating American politics, it is striking that the House responds by acceding to the Establishment’s choice of Ryan, who is an aggressive advocate for Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership and has backed legislation that would provide a path to citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants. The GOP in Washington seems entirely out of step with the mood of the electorate in 2016, critics contend.

Even as they offered praise, Democrats also foreshadowed their strategy of using Ryan’s pre-conditions — his desire not to work weekends so he can spend more time with his family — to press for mandated paid family leave.

“I think that’s very exciting,” Pelosi told reporters. “Because that’s what we want for all of America’s families.”

In a tweet on Oct. 21, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said: “@PRyan Family time should not be a privilege reserved for the Speaker of the House. You deserve it – and so does everyone else.”

Some opponents are not taking the new partnership of Ryan and Gutierrez lying down.

But some opponents are not taking the new partnership of Ryan and Gutierrez lying down.

“We’re going after Paul Ryan today,” said William Gheen, president of the Americans for Legal Immigration political action committee. “He has been openly working with the worst illegal immigration amnesty advocates in the Congress, Luis Gutierrez … A vote for Paul Ryan is a vote for amnesty for illegal aliens.”

Gheen urged his PAC’s network of subscribers and social media followers to call their members of Congress to urge them to oppose Ryan.

It is not the first time Gutierrez has offered kind words for Ryan. The two made joint appearances in Chicago during a 2013 push for legislation that would have offered a path to citizenship for people who had come to the United States without authorization.

Gheen, though, predicted that Ryan’s ascension to speaker would spawn more primary challenges against Republican congressmen — efforts that he said his PAC would aid.

“Paul Ryan is definitely a Cantor-like candidate,” he said, referring to the political earthquake in 2014 when then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary to an unknown college professor in Virginia.

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