Ryan returns to Capitol Hill
September 13th, 2012
10:34 PM ET
10 years ago

Ryan returns to Capitol Hill

Washington (CNN) - Paul Ryan, R-Wis., returned briefly to his day job in Congress on Thursday, making his first trip to Capitol Hill as the GOP vice presidential candidate.

While Ryan has been barnstorming battleground states and getting prime time television coverage for his recent convention speech, on the Hill he made no public comments nor participated in any congressional debate, choosing to keep his public presence there low key.

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But behind the scenes, Ryan was greeted like a rock star. Shortly after he arrived he was ushered into a reception in one of Speaker Boehner's conference rooms, far out of view from cameras and reporters. House Republicans lined up, some waiting for 20 minutes, to get their picture taken with him, and get a minute or two to chat about life on the campaign trail.

When Speaker Boehner escorted Ryan from his office to the House floor, he was trailed by a throng of reporters, and as Ryan entered the House chamber, he was greeted by applause from his GOP colleagues.

Kentucky Republican Rep Brett Guthrie told reporters after his brief visit with Ryan, "we're all proud of him."

Guthrie showed reporters a copy of a program from the Republican National Convention that he brought for Ryan to sign for a young constituent. He said Ryan was already planning to do a campaign stop for him when he visits Kentucky for the vice presidential debate next month.

House GOP Whip Kevin McCartthy said Ryan personally called House GOP conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling and asked for Thursday's get together with fellow Republicans. McCarthy said Ryan has a lot of personal friends who wanted to "say hi and congratulate him." Many of Ryan's colleagues said he enjoyed his time behind closed doors.

Ryan's decision to avoid the spotlight is perhaps not surprising. Republicans are mindful approval ratings for Congress are at record lows.

"Rep Steve Israel, the House Democrats' campaign chief, seized on that dynamic, telling reporters at a briefing timed to coincide with Ryan's visit, "if you are a Republican incumbent, you are less popular than any profession... you are toxic."

The Wisconsin congressman, who is simultaneously running for his House seat and for vice president alongside presidential nominee Mitt Romney, spent less than two hours in the Capitol. He voted for the six month government funding measure - the purpose of his trip - while 70 House Republicans opposed it.

Federal agencies are scheduled to run out of money at the end of the month, but the "continuing resolution" avoids any politically risky talk of a government shutdown. The bill keeps the current level of funding - $1.047 trillion, a figure leaders agreed to in last summer's debt deal. But that number is roughly $20 billion less than what's in the House GOP budget – a budget Ryan crafted as Budget Committee chairman and which passed the House earlier this year.

Ryan also voted for a Republican bill that directs President Obama to come up with a plan by October 15th to replace the automatic cuts scheduled to go into effect in January as part of the debt deal. Ryan and most House Republicans voted for the debt deal that set those cuts in motion. The vote on Thursday was part of an effort to shift the blame for those cuts to President Obama and congressional Democrats. But even though the measure came out of the Budget Committee, he didn't participate in any of the debate on the House floor, leaving it to the number two Republican on his committee, Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., to lead the GOP arguments.

It wasn't just House Republicans who were happy to see Ryan back in Washington.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released a video titled "Welcome back Mr. Ryan!" that started with the theme song from 70's television show "Welcome Back Kotter" and included two minutes worth of TV clips of Ryan defending his controversial proposal to overhaul Medicare.

Israel spent much of his morning session with reporters arguing that Ryan's selection for the GOP ticket was a key reason Democrats chances of picking up seats in the House were improving.

"Paul Ryan has become a down ballot disaster for Republicans," Israel said. He said House Democrats worked for months to make Ryan's Medicare proposal a central campaign theme, and said they were having some difficulty gaining traction with that strategy until Romney picked Ryan to be his running mate.

"Mitt Romney grabbed the megaphone from us when he chose Paul Ryan. He branded this debate and gave us the debate we wanted," Israel said.

Demonstrating how much they believe the issue would motivate voters, Israel showed a series of television ads that Democratic challengers are running, many of which zeroed in on House Republicans' vote for Ryan's budget - one that Democrats repeatedly argued would "end Medicare."

But at least two of the House Republican freshmen Israel cited as prime targets for that argument didn't shy away from linking themselves to Ryan. Rep. Nan Hayworth, R-NY, said she waited for about 15 minutes to get her picture taken with Ryan. Fellow New Yorker Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle also met with Ryan and told reporters she didn't think the Democratic strategy to use her vote for the Ryan budget would hurt her in November.

A top Senate Democrat also welcomed Ryan's visit. Senator Chuck Schumer went to the Senate floor to deliver an entire speech arguing that the GOP vice presidential candidate was making misleading campaign speeches blaming Democrats for the same across the board spending cuts that he voted for last summer.

"There you go again, Paul Ryan," Schumer said, adding, "He blamed the President - solely the President - for the year-end trigger, the sequestration that was part of the Budget Control Act. Never mind that Congressman Ryan voted for the very same sequestration himself. Never mind that it was his side's idea, in fact, to hold our credit rating hostage in the first place, and insist on these dollar-for-dollar cuts that he now decries."

Utah GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz said he was happy to see Ryan, but he also gave him some campaign advice: "Get out of here and go back to Ohio!"

Ryan seemed to take that to heart as he slipped out a back stairway, and carefully avoided reporters' questions. He did predict that the Green Bay Packers would beat the Chicago Bears in their Thursday night game.

Filed under: 2012 • Congress • Paul Ryan
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Michael

    Paul Ryan and the 112th Congressional Republicans have introduced: 46 Bills on Abortion,113 Bills on Religion, 73 bills on family relationships, 36 bills on marriage,72 bills on firearms, 604 bills on taxation, and 467 bills on government investigations, but BLOCKED the American Jobs Act. Not a bad deal for those who only work 9 days a month for full pay and benefits! Lucky for us, they've made repealing Obamacare a priority for the 31st this YEAR! Repuglicans are the liars! They cry for 4 years where are the jobs Mr President! But, voted against or fillibusterd or cried against every jobs bill President Obama presented them! These repuglicans extemist obstructionist, who are king of the fillibuster and "DOING NOTHING," for 4 years, but trying to make sure President Obama is a one term President!

    September 13, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  2. Alan Beasley

    Over 70 Questions we will not hear at any of the democrat controlled debates –

    1. What kind of Flexibility (comrade)?

    2. What is the exact Medicare Actuary's error saying you cut $716B from Medicare?

    3. GM is 16% of the U.S. Auto Industry – how did you save Toyota, Honda, Ford, KIA and the 20 others that build, sell and service cars in the USA?

    73. Seaweed? Really?!? Have you seen gasoline prices?


    BTW – Will we now see ads with Ryan AND Obama pushing granny over the cliff?

    Or since Obama trippled the cut and eliminated M-Advantage – it's no longer a cut?

    September 13, 2012 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  3. NotFooledByDistractions

    I hope ryan is happy there because he flushed any further political aspirations down the toilet when he signed on the romney ticket. He'll be another vp candidate who will never be VP or President.

    September 13, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  4. onlyfacts

    Funny how the right always wines about Obama "always campaigning", but they never mention Ryan "always campaigning"....oh, that's right the Republican House never does anything anyway so he is never missed.

    September 13, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  5. blueboycott

    Republican members of congress lined up and waited 20 minutes to have their picture taken with him. Are Democrats lining up to have their picture taken with Biden?

    September 13, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  6. Namejkane sfl a vote for the gop will cut your moms medicare and soc sec .can you afford to pay for them???

    I guess the gop bafoon party is having one last party at taxpayers expenses before they get trashed in Nov landslide loss to president Obama!!!!!!

    September 13, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  7. Kiki

    Hey Ryan... don't quit your day job because you'll need something to fall back on after Nov. 6th. That's if the democrat who's running for your seat doesn't oust you.

    September 13, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  8. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    Ryan has only had two bills he sponsered pass in the entire time he has been in Washington. And one of them was to name a building after a big contributor of his. Ryan not being in town should have about zero effect on the running of the government.

    Well, maybe somebody with less experience than Ryan needed a primer on how to lie to the public. Then I could see him being called back as an expert to mentor young Republicans.

    September 14, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  9. FedUp2

    Too bad none of them can see the solution to a balanced budget is taking back all that undeserved foreign aid money we've been wasting.

    September 14, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  10. Thomas

    Ryan was greeted like a rock star. Shortly after he arrived he was ushered into a reception in one of Speaker Boehner's conference rooms, far out of view from cameras and reporters. House Republicans lined up, some waiting for 20 minutes, to get their picture taken with him, and get a minute or two to chat about life on the campaign trail.

    Rock Star ?

    September 14, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  11. Stephen Bibb

    Ryan is running back to Washington. He knows the election fight is over.

    September 14, 2012 04:56 am at 4:56 am |
  12. Stephen Bibb

    Ryan is all about big oil, giving tax breaks to millionaires and wants to play the stock market with social security, medicare and medicaiid.

    September 14, 2012 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  13. Stephen Bibb

    Ryan and Romney are all about continuation of OBSTRUCTING the economic recovery, continuing to refuse to appropriate annual funding to states so 10s of thousands more teachers, firemen and police officers will lose their jobs. Ryan and the House of Representatives (HORs) have put over 600 thousand people out of work the last 2 years.

    September 14, 2012 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  14. Marie MD

    I love Schumer's welcome of the lying altar boy. He will be happy to see him back in his rep seat come January 2013! Unless the WI citizens come to their senses and not send a lying cheat to congress again. One can only hope.

    September 14, 2012 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  15. ltnet356

    Why are not seeing all the stories about the "bad tone" and hatred from th Dem's?

    September 14, 2012 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  16. GI Joe

    Ahhhh – instead of traveling the country telling his lies (Ryan/Akin abortion bill), he's back in DC to obstruct any progress for the people of the U.S.A.

    September 14, 2012 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  17. GI Joe

    24 days til early voting in my state.
    Obama/Biden 2012-2016 for a calm, intelligent, steady hand going forward.

    September 14, 2012 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  18. wgf

    "Ryan also voted for a Republican bill that directs President Obama to come up with a plan by October 15th to replace the automatic cuts scheduled to go into effect in January as part of the debt deal. "

    What kind of legislation is this ? Congress is in charge of appropriations. Why would they abbrogate that responsibility to the Executive branch ? Is this an example of the "tough decisions" and "leadership" that Ryan said the GOP was going to offer ? Really weak. Oh, and probably not even legally binding.

    September 14, 2012 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  19. Just a thought

    So Ayn Ryan returns to do what? ...Say NO? Come one, how many idiots think this guy is going to do any job other than obstruct and put party before country.

    You know, I might be able to give the Robme/Lyin'Ryan campaign some respect if they would just once admit that the current version of GOP/Tea-Tards are destroying this country with their intransigence.

    September 14, 2012 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  20. Q

    Paul Ryan's pollitical career ended the day he said yes to Mitt. I for one will be happy to see him fade into obscurity.....

    September 14, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  21. Wake up People!

    To do what, bash the President?

    September 14, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  22. v_mag

    Lyin' Ryan has enough baggage lying around Capitol Hill already. He doesn't want to say or do something there to set people off at this point. On the Hill, he would need to express fairly specific views, whereas on the trail, he can just attack the President and bloviate. Besides, he's hoping to keep his House seat, since he certainly won't be moving to the executive anytime soon.

    September 14, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  23. Ozzie

    Lyin' Ryan kept quiet. What a blessing!

    September 14, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  24. Namejkane sfl a vote for the gop will cut your moms medicare and soc sec .can you afford to pay for them???

    These two gop losers,romney the tax cheat and lyin Ryan will be gone in Nov.hay Ryan,how come you sent back that. 60,000 campaign donation in your home state, maybe because hot name came up in a federal probe ????? Explain please ???????

    September 14, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  25. LegalizeReason

    "But behind the scenes, Ryan was greeted like a rock star."

    A rock star? How about more like Milli Vanilli.

    September 14, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |