House Speaker Paul Ryan managed to get a long-term transportation funding bill out of the House last week. While that first long-term funding bill in a decade was a pretty significant accomplishment, his conference is warning that they won't let him do anything else without a fight. That fight: Noxious policy riders attached to spending bills that have to pass by December 11 to avert a government shutdown.
Asked early in the week whether he would press so-called "policy riders" to the spending bill that would condition the money—perhaps to defund Planned Parenthood or rein in the EPA—Ryan suggested he wouldn't back down from the fight, noting Congress is the institution that holds the power of the purse and "we fully expect that we are going to exercise that power."
Because the spending fight is a tough line to walk due to the warring factions inside the GOP conference demanding different things, Ryan put together an advisory group of key leaders representing the different ideological viewpoints. Representatives of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of roughly 40 members on the right who were Boehner's toughest critics, will join members of the moderate Tuesday Group, and the Republican Study Committee, another large group of conservatives for weekly sessions to discuss policy ideas. […]
"I'm not going to pre-determine the outcome of negotiations that have not even taken place yet," Ryan said. He also pointed out that Congress was separately moving a budget process -- known as "reconciliation"—that stripped federal money for the group, and that path was a better bet to get a bill to the President's desk.
But as Ryan tries to avoid saying specifically what House Republicans will do on the spending bill, Senate Democrats are insisting that the appropriations bills all be lumped together in a massive omnibus measure. That means party leaders like Ryan will have to get personally involved to hash out a compromise behind the scenes and push it through both chambers. That tactic could infuriate the right of Ryan's conference, but Democrats say it's the only way to go.
At the moment, Ryan is trying to take a hands-off approach, leaving it up to the appropriations committee to do the negotiating with various factions. That's not going to fly. And it's not going to be enough for the Freedom Caucus, the group of maniacs that seems to claim the largest membership. "We think he is going to want input from members of the Freedom Caucus as well as input from everyone else in the conference,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, when asked about the budget fight. “That's how it's supposed to work, he's committed to do that." Jordan and his members are already pushing hard to include those noxious policy riders—that Senate Democrats will not allow to pass.
Ryan has not yet met with Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi or with President Obama. He has met with Senate Republicans, but not on the specifics of the spending bill that will keep government open after December 11. He has, however, asked for the support of Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL), his opponent in the speaker's race. "He said, 'Look I'd like your help,' and I said I'd give it to him," according to Webster.