Ryan Delivers Final Floor Remarks in House

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland urged his colleagues to come together to lead vigorously and boldly and to debate solutions to the problems facing the nation in his final remarks from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives as he prepares to leave Congress.

Ryan, D-13th, reflected on the importance of civility during a roughly five-minute speech, delivered shortly before 2 p.m. and livestreamed on C-SPAN, that he began with the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution and concluded with remarks by President Abraham Lincoln.

First elected to Congress in 2002, the Trumbull County native will depart the House at the end of the 117th Congress, falling short in a bid to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, a Michigan Democrat who also is leaving Congress at the end of this term, introduced Ryan as “one of our cardinals” and “a great public servant.

“Thanks for your wonderful public service here for the people of Ohio but, really, for all the people in this country,” Levin said.

After reciting most of the Constitution’s preamble to open his remarks, Ryan focused on its first three words – “We the people” – and reflected on Congress’ lower chamber, often referred to as “the people’s house,” with 12,421 members so far sent to govern a nation of nearly 700 million people.

“There have been some great Americans, some of the best, that have served in this chamber. But there also have been scoundrels, crooks, liars,” he said, a perhaps intentional reference to his predecessor, the late James A. Traficant Jr., who was convicted on corruption charges in 2002.

“This is the people’s house,” he repeated to some light chuckles.

Ryan said he was grateful to come from a working-class family in Ohio to end up serving in the community where he grew up, played sports and raised his family for 20 years.

“If there’s one thing I hope that all members and all citizens can grasp and touch, it’s gratitude,” he said.

The United States has fed, clothed, cured and liberated more people than all the other countries in the world combined, and the first step to getting “out of this mess that we’re in” – the polarization, hate, anger and fear – is with gratitude, he said.

“If we all start from a place of gratitude, we will have a much different opinion of the country, of each other, and of what’s possible for us, because this country has always done great things. But we do great things when we’re together, when we embrace normalcy, when we embrace decency, when we embrace compassion,” he continued.

Ryan also reminded his colleagues that they are charged with making the difficult decisions, not the ones that will make their next elections easier.

“But the challenge today is to be called to lead – and lead vigorously, lead boldly – because that’s what the world needs us to do right now, and this country has always been innovative,” he said. “Across the board, the systems are all broken. The economic system’s broken. The immigration system’s broken. The welfare system’s broken. The education system’s broken. And we’re not going to fix these problems if we’re not decent to each other, if we don’t talk to each other.”

Some of the solutions will be conservative, and some will be liberal and progressive, but it’s through that conflict, those arguments and debate, which “this very chamber was set up to do,” that they arrive at the best solution, Ryan said.

“We’ve got to come together,” he added. “As we approach the 250th anniversary of this country, let us renew our commitment to each other, so that we can meet President Lincoln’s charge, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom. And that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this.”

For the rest of his term, Ryan will continue to fulfill his normal duties relating to constituent casework and legislative affairs, including voting on legislation next week to fund the government, spokeswoman Caty Payette said.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.