Last year, Ryan signed a letter with other members of the Wisconsin delegation seeking a federal grant for the state’s Department of Transportation. The letter, dated Aug. 1, 2011, said the funds would be used to replace aging vehicles and “invest in green technology and alternative fuels.”
Ryan, an avid deer hunter, co-sponsored bipartisan legislation in 2003 that would allocate $20 million nationwide to fight chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, a malady similar to mad cow disease. Congress wound up allocating $19 million for the measure, including $1.75 million that would go to Wisconsin.
Ryan’s advocacy for his constituents extends back to soon after he took office in 1999. In an October 2000 news release, he said he had “succeeded in including” $1.5 million in a federal transportation bill for a runway extension at the Rock County Airport, primarily to benefit a local General Motors plant.
“This is great news for Rock County,” said Ryan, who added that he personally met with FAA Administrator Jane Garvey about the airport and would “continue to work with her to secure the full federal funding request for this project.”
The congressman sent out similar statements saying he had intervened with federal agencies to secure or allocate funds to better equip Janesville firefighters and to help low-income Wisconsin students take more Advanced Placement classes.
In July 2005, his office said Ryan’s efforts led to $12.8 million in a federal transportation measure for three Wisconsin road projects, along with engineering funds for commuter rail and a “streetcar expansion project” in Kenosha.
Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said Ryan had secured “about the average amount” of earmarks in 2005 compared to other rank-and-file lawmakers.
In 2008, Ryan ranked 401st out of 435 members in the House based on total dollars secured, said Ellis, whose organization monitors earmarks.
That year, Ryan obtained three earmarks, records show, including the funding for the Janesville transit center, $1.3 million for the 1,200-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail and $3.3 million for Wisconsin bus facilities. Ryan alone requested the Janesville money; the other two earmarks also were requested by other legislators, including Democrats.
Three years ago, Ryan pushed for funds from a spending source anathema to Republicans: Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package.
Ryan wrote letters in 2009 to the Labor and Energy departments seeking stimulus funds for two energy conservation groups in his district. One letter, to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, on behalf of the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp., said the corporation wanted to use the money to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Ryan said he was “pleased to learn” that the project — which was awarded $20 million — would build “sustainable demand for green jobs,” a major Obama administration priority, according to the letter, dated Dec. 18, 2009. The letters were first reported by the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Globe.
In March 2009, Ryan wrote a letter of support to the Energy Department on behalf of the Energy Center of Wisconsin, which was working with a solar energy laboratory at the University of Wisconsin in Madison to fund research into alternative heating and cooling systems.
The grant was awarded, and Sanford Klein, director of the laboratory, said a portion of it helped pay the stipend for a doctoral student who conducted research.
Ryan also signed a bipartisan letter with the state’s delegation in 2009 asking the Treasury Department to dip into a $25 billion pool of grants and low-interest loans to prevent Chrysler from closing its automotive plant in Kenosha.
The letter, dated May 7, 2009, said the money would help the automaker “retool” the plan to produce more fuel-efficient engines.
Alice Crites contributed to this report.