Oct. 14, 2015 - All of Washington, and especially House Republicans, is
awaiting word on whether Paul Ryan will agree to run for speaker. Republicans
are in desperate need to put an end to their leadership turmoil when lawmakers
return to work after this week’s recess, and Ryan appears to be the one person
who could unite the caucus.
word from Ryan and his staff is that nothing has changed - he isn’t running for
the job. Ryan said in Wisconsin Monday that he still isn’t running, and
his spokesman posted on Twitter that he didn’t expect any news this week.
But it’s worth noting that Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman of the House
Freedom Caucus, a group of about 40 hard-line conservatives, has essentially
given Ryan the green light. Jordan said on Fox News Sunday that his group would “look
favorably” on Ryan.
Republican Reid Ribble, who dropped out of the Freedom Caucus last week because
of its role in bringing down House Speaker John Boehner, says in an Open Mic interview with Agri-Pulse that the new speaker must “build
bridges” across coalitions in the House as well as work with the Senate and
White House. That sounds like a job description written for Ryan, given his
experience negotiating the 2013 Ryan-Murray budget deal and, most recently,
Trade Promotion Authority.
House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, continues to mull a
race for the speakership himself, but he told a
group of Texas cotton growers Tuesday that Ryan would be the best
person for the job. If Ryan doesn’t run, the Texas congressional delegation will
continue discussions on an alternative, he said.
Ryan record: a
mixed bag for agriculture
In Ryan, agriculture would have a speaker with a reputation as a
pragmatist who could be open to immigration reform. He’s also a big supporter of trade,
and will play a major role in shepherding the Trans-Pacific Partnership through
Congress, whether as speaker or in his current role as chairman of the Ways and
On the other hand, when he was chairman of the House Budget Committee he
proposed steep cuts in farm subsidies and crop insurance. To the frustration of the
anti-hunger community, he also repeatedly proposed to turn food stamps into a
block-grant program for states to run.
2014 budget proposal said that “taxpayers should not finance payments (farm
subsidies) for a business sector that is more than capable of thriving on its
own. His fiscal 2015 plan was released after passage of the 2014 farm bill,
which eliminated direct payments, but said that farm programs were still “ripe
Immigration reform is dead for this Congress with the presidential race
under way, but if Republicans retain control of the House, as expected, Ryan
would be in a position as speaker to give the issue some new life in 2017.
Ryan has “never
led the reform parade,” but his “interaction over the years with dairy,
nursery, and Christmas tree constituents would suggest that he understands
that the status quo isn’t serving our nation’s interest, and that improvements to
the legal immigration system are a necessary and critical component that needs
Congressional attention,” said Craig Regelbrugge, who is national co-chair of the
Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform.
Gasperini, executive vice president of the National Council of Agricultural
Employers, said Ryan appears to be someone that agriculture can talk to even if
it isn’t clear what his positions are.
Some anti-immigration activists have raised alarms about Ryan, but the
criticism doesn’t seem to have turned off conservatives, given his possible
Freedom Caucus support. The conservative web site Breitbart compiled a series of activist concerns about Ryan’s
record on immigration. The director of the anti-immigration group Numbers USA,
which gives Ryan a grade of D-minus for this
Congress, called Ryan “terrifying” on the issue.
As for farm
programs, they’re probably not in any danger until the farm bill comes up for
renewal in 2018. Even then, Sen. Chuck
Grassley, R-Iowa, believes the biggest threat to farm programs probably comes
from fiscal conservatives in the House, not necessarily from the next speaker.
“We would have to face” attacks on farm programs, “even if John Boehner was
still there,” Grassley said.
president of the American Association of Crop Insurers, says his
industry has to keep making the case for crop insurance. “We have always been
concerned about and focused on maintaining an effective financial safety net
for production agriculture,” he said.
For more news, go to www.agri-pulse.com