Congressional Reformist or Dead Man Walking?

On Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, a radical change was enacted within U.S. Congress. John Boehner, Speaker of the House from 2011-15, was ousted, and Republican Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin’s first congressional district was elected, boasting an overwhelming 236 votes.

Ryan is a prominent politician most widely recognized for his failed vice presidential aspirations in 2012. Although a blatant conservative, Ryan holds respect with both the Republican and Democratic parties. In fact, Chuck Schumer, a Democratic senior senator who has been widely endorsed throughout the party to succeed minority leader Harry Reid, has spoken kindly of Speaker Ryan. “Straightforward,” “honorable,” and “willing to compromise” are among the praises Ryan received from Schumer.

So is Ryan the appropriate candidate for the Speaker?

Senate Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hands the gavel symbolis to the Speaker of the House position to Paul Ryan. (photo by: CNN)
Senate Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hands the gavel symbolic to the Speaker of the House position to Paul Ryan. (photo by: CNN)

Democrats and Republicans alike have expounded on the notion of significant changes that need to occur. This is fitting, considering Congress under John Boehner has been less productive than those under former Speakers Nancy Pelosi, J. Dennis Hastert, and Newt Gingrich. In response, President Barack Obama has accomplished near nothing in affecting the tides of the lagging Congress. In fact, since the Republican Party achieved majority status through congressional elections held in November 2014, Obama does not have a branch to back his agenda. His latest reaction to this inability to pass far left bills through Congress is resorting to the exclusive presidential power of the executive order. An executive order is a rule or order issued by the president that carries the force of law. Obama has doled out an abundance of these in his two terms in defiance of Congress’ constant rebuttal of Democratic bills.

For the Congress to effectively and efficiently promote both parties’ agendas, they will have to impose the elementary concept of compromise.  So to answer the initial question with another question, can Paul Ryan negotiate with the opposing parties to engineer a bipartisan bill?

President Obama vetoes a bill pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan that would defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare. (photo by: AP)
President Obama vetoes a bill pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan that would defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare. (photo by: AP)

Within a month of becoming Speaker of the House, Ryan passed the bipartisan “Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE)” Act of 2015. This act made it more difficult for Syrian refugees, particularly, to gain access to the U.S. Given the president’s opposition to this, as well as most liberals, the act could not be easily passed. Also, when elected, Ryan had roughly one month to complete Congress’ “to-do list.” This list entailed several do-or-die proposals like highway funding, expiring tax policies, and a 2016 fiscal year appropriations measure.

The latter had to be ratified and was passed to keep the government from another shutdown.

Ryan has shown us, thus far, that he can, in fact, compromise. Also, he has proven that the Congress as a whole can act efficiently and work with or stand up to the president who seems to show less concern for congressional power every day.

Ryan has a tough task ahead that necessitates not only reforming Congress, but bringing back dignity to the tarnished name of the Republican Party that suffers from an abundance of quarreling presidential candidates and is held liable for “simply trying to shut the president down.” as described. However, looking back on his first two months, Paul Ryan seems to be able to effectively handle the position and steer Congress in the right direction.


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