Government

Ryan Tells Why He Voted for Spending Bill

WARREN, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan says he’s on board with his party’s leadership, but isn’t convinced Democrats got the political message from the brief government shutdown a few weeks ago.

Back from Washington after yesterday’s early-morning vote to end a second overnight shutdown, Ryan held a news conference at his district office here.

Citing the government shutdown last month in which Democrats tried to force action on immigration, Ryan, D-13 Ohio, says the party’s leadership needs to broaden its appeal to address the concerns of middle-class voters.

“We don’t talk enough about raising wages and getting investment into communities like ours,” he said. “I don’t think we handled it properly in the last few weeks and have a big enough coalition.”

Friday morning Ryan was among 73 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives who joined all but 67 House Republicans to vote for the spending measure that ended the overnight shutdown. The Senate passed the bill on a 71-28 bipartisan vote, and President Donald Trump signed it into law yesterday.

“It was a deal that had to be made, in the sense that there wasn’t really a good endgame for shutting the government down,” Ryan said.

In addition to boosting military spending, the budget agreement provides an additional $6 billion to address the opiate epidemic, “which is a huge issue here,” funds for disaster relief, extensions of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and money for community health centers.

When Democrats stood with those affected by DACA , Ryan said, they also should have talked about                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Teamsters and coal miners concerned about their pensions and families taking advantage of CHIP. “These are all part of our broader coalition and I just don’t think that we’ve yet put that coalition together.

“I haven’t heard a whole lot of the rhetoric change,” he said. “The message really hasn’t changed much at all.” He said he would continue to try to provide leadership on the direction of the party and its message.

For the most part, the budget agreement was a “decent deal,” even though hDemocrats didn’t get everything they wanted, Ryan said. The earlier attempt to force action on immigrants affected by suspension of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals Act – or Dreamers – “didn’t really work out,” he said.

“It was really important for us to try to get the train back on track,” Ryan said. “

If Democrats withheld votes this time, House Speaker Paul Ryan would have gone to “the extreme conservative, Tea Party element of his caucus” for support, which would have resulted in them “gutting” spending on the military, the opiate issue and health care.

“We wanted to try to take care of the Dreamer issue and that’s a priority for us,” Ryan said. “Now we’ve got to hold [Republicans’] feet to the fire.”

During the news conference, Ryan said he had spoken for about 20 minutes Thursday with Amer Adi Othman, also known as Al Adi, the Youngstown businessman who was recently deported to Jordan.

Adi was on his way to the airport to pick up his wife, who flew to Jordan to join him there, Ryan said. Adi as in “good spirits” as he prepared to see his wife again but missed his family here. “We’re continuing to try to see if there’s any other options or alternatives” as far as bringing him back to the United States, he said.

Ryan, who has been working with Adi for several years to address his legal status, said he was unsure if the upcoming immigration debate could provide a vehicle for addressing his situation. Under a comprehensive immigration reform bill, violent criminals could be ranked as a higher priority for deportation “than a 40-year business person who is married to an American citizen and has four American daughters.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.