As 2018 draws to an ignominious end for Republicans in Congress, Washington Post columnist Paul Kane penned a political obituary detailing the failed tenure of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.).
When Republicans entered 2017 with complete control of Congress and the White House, they promised big things, including a smooth running government that would get things done.
Instead, what Americans learned is that Republicans are incapable of governing even when they have the majority in Congress and a Republican as president.
In the middle of it all is retiring Paul Ryan, who capped off his time as House Speaker by caving in to President Donald Trump one last time just over a week ago when he stood outside the White House after a meeting and announced that House Republicans would not be passing a unanimously passed bipartisan continuing resolution to fund the government through early February because it did not include funding for Trump’s border wall.
“The president informed us that he will not sign the bill that came up from the Senate last evening because of his legitimate concerns for border security,” Ryan announced in a statement. “So we are going to go back to the House to work with our members. We want to keep the government open.”
Of course, if that were true, they would have passed the Senate bill and dared Trump not to sign it instead of whimpering their way back to Congress to pass a bill that had no chance of getting through the Senate, especially since most senators had already left Washington for the holidays.
And so, Ryan’s tenure came to end with a third shutdown on his watch in the last two years, and Kane detailed his downfall.
“Republicans are ending the 115th Congress in an all-too-familiar spot: standing on the sidelines while President Trump picks a fight they wanted to avoid as he ignores what they consider major conservative accomplishments,” he wrote. “Instead, Trump used each ceremony as an opportunity to denounce Democrats for opposing his multibillion-dollar demands for U.S. taxpayer money to fund a southern border wall, launching Washington into its third partial shutdown this year.”
Keep in mind that Republicans controlled the Senate, the House and the presidency, yet still could not get their act together to keep the government open. That’s not the tyranny of the minority that Republicans did during former President Barack Obama’s time in office. That’s chaos of the majority led by Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“It’s an embarrassing end to a two-year run for McConnell and Ryan,” Kane continued. “For months they respectively called this the ‘most successful Congress’ for Republicans and claimed it set ‘a record pace’ for legislative production.”
But that’s a lie as most of what this Congress passed were measures reversing Obama’s legacy instead of building upon it to make America better. In short, Republicans’ “production” moved the country backward, not forward.
And even when Republicans passed a big piece of legislation, of which there were few, Trump failed to talk about it and focused instead on things he didn’t get, such as his border wall whining, which contributed to a historic Republican defeat by the Democrats in November.
“Time and again, Trump has paid lip service to these issues that Republicans consider wins and instead has focused on his demands for a border wall,” Kane continued. “Early this year, after the tax cuts took effect, GOP leaders winced as Trump focused on other issues and saw public approval for the legislation fade away.”
It also didn’t help that the tax cuts did not actually benefit the majority of Americans in any meaningful way. They largely benefited the wealthy and corporations and caused the deficit and debt to skyrocket.
So, it was fitting when Ryan banged the gavel one final time last weekend in an empty chamber.
“Ryan’s last moment on the House floor came Saturday evening when he gaveled the empty chamber shut, the last legislative session of 2018 going out with a whimper,” Kane concluded.
And thus, Republicans turned a satirical quote by P.J. O’Rourke into truth by demonstrating for all the world to see that: “The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.”
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