At a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor today, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) delivered remarks so aggressive about how President Obama has “exceeded his authority” that they are bound to fan the fervor for his impeachment among his fellow Republicans. Of course, when he was first asked about the poll showing 57 percent of Republicans wanting to exact the extraordinary punishment, Ryan demurred.
“I see this sort of a ridiculous game by the president and his political team to try and change the narrative, raise money and turn out their base for an upcoming election that they feel is not going to go their way,” he said. “And I’ll just leave it at that.” You’ll notice those are pretty much the same talking points used by Speaker Boehner and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in the last few days.
Later, Ryan would admit that the tussle between the speaker and the president “doesn’t rise to high crimes and misdemeanor levels,” but that was after a reporter wondered why Republicans didn’t go for impeachment considering Ryan’s strong language about Obama. And it is this kind of high-octane rhetoric that is going to make it all but impossible for Boehner to avoid the political hara-kiri that would be Obama’s impeachment, that is, once his raucous caucus realizes that the lawsuit they are expected to approve late this afternoon will either never get a hearing or won’t have any impact on Obama whatsoever. For many of them, publicly punishing the president is paramount.
Ryan signaled his aggressive stance in response to a question about the prospects of immigration reform of any kind given the distrust between House Republicans and the Obama.
It’s hard to see in this climate. It really is. I think we need to, and we’re going to do this on Thursday, I think we need to deal narrowly with the border crisis but because of the demonstrated distrust of the president in enforcing the laws it’s very hard to see how Republicans can come together with a solution that we expect the president to enforce the laws. You know that I’m a fan of immigration reform. I’ve been in favor of immigration reform for many, many years. We have a broken system that needs fixing for the rule of law, for national security and for economic security. But, having said all of that, there is just no confidence or faith that the president will faithfully discharge his duties in executing and implementing the laws as written by Congress at this time.
Ryan said he would vote for the bill authorizing the Boehner lawsuit against Obama because the speaker is “trying to stand up for Congressional prerogatives” and “because we want to show that we are not going to take this lying down.” He is especially perturbed by the House’s inability to check executive authority by exercising power of the purse, “which is being denied us because the Senate has chosen to stand up for the executive branch not the legislative branch.” Ryan is the chairman of the House Budget Committee, by the way.
“The president is issuing executive orders and regulations that exceed the parameters of the statutes that give the authority in the first place,” Ryan continued. “And so it’s important to make that distinction and that’s why I’ll vote for it because I stand with the speaker in thinking that the president has exceeded his authority.”
Jeff Zeleny of ABC News asked the question that elicited the above quotes. So, he followed up by asking if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had the better tactic of using a third party to sue the president as he did on recess appointments.
I’m not going to comment on the efficacy of these particular moves only that we are all as conservatives, as people who swore an oath as conservatives to protect the Constitution, alarmed at the extent the president has gone to circumvent the Constitution. And let’s make it very clear, that there are a number of avenues that the Framers in the Constitution gave us, the people and the legislative branch, to deal with this and many different avenues are being pursued because we’re very concerned about an executive that has exceeded his power.
One of the avenues available to Congress in the Constitution is impeachment. As I noted earlier, Ryan said that none of what Republicans rail against rises to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” required by the revered document. But with all the “alarmed” talk about the president “circumventing the Constitution” and “exceed[ing] his authority,” in addition to there being “no confidence or faith” that he’ll “faithfully discharge his duties” in executing the laws, how does Ryan expect the less grounded of his caucus to be content with a lawsuit that won’t punish Obama while he’s still president, if at all?
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