Speaker of the House Paul Ryan joined me today to open the show:
HH: I begin today’s program with the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, Paul Ryan. Speaker Ryan, it’s a grim day. I’m just looking at the news. Six Americans killed, three wounded by a suicide bomber in outside of Bagram Air Force Base. This has to be the hardest part of a Constitutional office, is that these men and women in uniform are in essence, you are taking care of them. And when someone gets to them, they get to you.
PR: That’s exactly how I feel. Merry Christmas, Hugh, how are you? I’ve been to the Bagram base a couple of times. I know exactly where that entrance is. That entrance has been targeted repeatedly over the course of this last decade. And my heart just goes out to these men and women who are there holding a line for us. And we can never forget what they do for us.
HH: I want to turn to the Omnibus, Speaker Ryan. I had an old friend, Bud the Contractor, one of my closest friends, and he was in the studio earlier today, he doesn’t like the Omnibus. And I said to him, Bud, how many times have you taken over a remodel where everything is screwed up, and you’re doing a kitchen and a dining room, and the new owner says just get it done, I’ve got people coming in for the holidays, no matter what it takes. It’s over budget, it’s screwed up, just get it done. Is that what this Omnibus was, just get it done?
PR: That’s a really good way of putting it, actually. I never thought about it that way. Yeah, I mean, look, you all know that I inherited this kind of a process. I hate Omnibus as well. I don’t think it’s the way government should work. Given that, I think we made the best of a situation. We got the military funding done the way we wanted it to get done, which was our highest priority. We got pro-life riders. We got the oil export ban lifted permanently, something we’ve been trying to do for decades. We got permanent tax relief for families and small businesses. We put a stop on the IRS and their ability to use the IRS as a political weapon to meddle in campaigns like they did in 2012. I can go on and on. We didn’t get every win we wanted, but the wins we are still looking for, say, Planned Parenthood, we’ve got that in our reconciliation bill, which the Senate can’t filibuster. We’re going to have that vote when we return from the Christmas break. The Senate’s going to be taking up Syria refugee legislation, which we sent over to the Senate. So we’re advancing on all of the things that we believe in. I don’t think an Omnibus is a good approach. That’s why passing this Omnibus helps us get back to what we call regular order, where we are considering these spending bills individually on their own merits, one at a time next year. And that is the kind of system that we ought to have. It’s the way the founders designed it, and that’s what I’m most excited about getting onto early in 2016.
HH: I talked to Senator Thune last week, and he hinted to Guy Benson and me, in a little-noticed interview, that the Senate might be considering revising its filibuster rules with regards to the Appropriations process, whether the Democrats want to or not, because this is a core function of government that they filibustered all year long.
PR: Exactly. And the reason we had the Omnibus is they filibustered bringing these bills up last, this past year. And so the House had been passing Appropriation bills, and then the system basically came to a screeching halt, and the Senate wouldn’t pass any of these things. And you’re right, this is our job to do Appropriations. And so it’s, it plays to their benefit to jam these bills, and that’s why we’ve come up with a different idea and a different process for making sure that we actually have what we call regular order, where we consider these bills separately. But we had to get through this particular moment in order to get that train back on the tracks, and that’s where we are right now.
HH: Well, the remodel is done, and no one is going to show it off, but we look for next year. Let me look about the good part of the remodel, though, the Defense budget. $25 billion, I see 11 new F-35’s, four Reapers, seven Growlers. You’ve got five FA-18 Super Hornets, which keeps the line open, which is very important.
HH: I’m just saying you bought a lot of necessary stuff with this bill.
PR: Same with littoral combat ships, and I can go on and on with some Navy acquisitions that were necessary as well. So we basically made the Defense authorization bill we passed, we matched it up with our Appropriations. And this was necessary to do that. So half of this Omnibus, just so you know, more than half, goes to the military, and that is something that we felt was absolutely essential. It’s one of the reasons why we worked to get this done, so that the military can plan. What really matters to the military is they’ve got two years now in which they can plan their acquisitions or purchases. It makes our dollar go farther, and that was the thing that we really needed to provide. The military’s certainty and also businesses and family certainty, small businesses didn’t know what their taxes were going to be in a matter of weeks. Now, we’ve provided them permanent certainties, so we thought that that was very necessary, certainty for the economy, for businesses and for our military in particular.
HH: And I want to focus on that last thing, especially for the Steelers fans, Mr. Speaker. We’ve got to slow it way down. They have been operating on a one year, one year, sometimes nine month cycle.
HH: Now, they have a two year horizon on which to do acquisition, which means everything.
PR: It means not only everything, it means they can buy more by bulk. It’s kind of like the Sam’s Club effect for the military. So you can buy by bulk, and you can plan your purchases going out, which is so much valuable, so valuable for the military. That’s one of the reasons why we thought it was necessary to get this done, and then get back to regular order next year. So look, we think we got good victories for the taxpayer. We think we got good victories for the energy markets. I mean, having the oil export ban lifted permanently, it’s like having a hundred Keystone Pipelines. And it’s really good for our foreign policy. It says to Europe, buy our oil and gas instead of Putin’s. It says to Japan buy it from us. It helps us put OPEC out of the business of controlling the world oil markets. It puts number one, it puts America in the lead in dominating the world energy markets, which is not good for the likes of Russia, the Middle East, Venezuela and others. So we think it’s good foreign policy, it’s good for American jobs. Some estimates say that it could create as many as one million jobs when it’s all said in done right here in America. And so that’s why we use the leverage the best that we could, to get these kinds of policies for our taxpayers.
HH: Now Speaker Ryan, one of my closest friends in this business is Mark Levin. He’s a true patriot. He’s the Thomas Paine of our time. He’s very upset with the deal. You’ve got a lot of conservative critics. I think it’s essential that you talk to everyone and keep answering their questions, and I think you’re doing that. Are you committed throughout 2016 to talk to your critics?
PR: Absolutely. Yeah, I’m talking to, doing radio tomorrow morning as well. Look, I’m a fan of Mark’s as well. He’s particularly not a fan of mine at this point, I guess, but nevertheless, I’m actually a fan of his. There’s one provision that I think has been so misconstrued, so misinformed and distorted, which is the H-2B visa program. This is a very small provision that was passed in the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill last July. It received unanimous Republican votes in the committee. It’s been sitting out there in the light of day since July. And according to the Congressional Budget Office, it would result in less than 10,000 temporary workers coming to America next year for those industries that have work shortages, like surging industries that are seasonal, seafood processing in Chesapeake Bay, the seafood processing industry in Maine, the tourism industry in northern states, or the nursery industry in northern states. These are businesses last year that couldn’t find American workers, and wanted to bring their returning workers who are seasonal back so that their businesses didn’t shut down. It will result in less than 10,000 workers next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and it’s a one year provision, and it was passed with unanimous Republican votes in the House Appropriations Committee back in July. And so I think people are blowing a lot of distortions through the system rippling around the internet, saying that it quadruples, or that it brings in all these new workers. It doesn’t do that. But you know, that’s the problem. When you’re doing such big legislation, lots of misinformation will get carried around the internet, and people will base their information on that. They’re basing their opinions on that. And so I think when you see the dust settling, when you see that the misinformation is sort of leveled with the facts that we’ve got the oil export ban, we’ve got the military what they needed, we crimped the IRS, we got our pro-life riders, we got a lot of good conservative wins, not nearly as many as we wanted, but we got some good conservative wins. And we’re going to pick up and start where we left off next year to keep going.
HH: Now let me ask you, if I could give Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, one book for Christmas, it would be Joby Warrick’s book, Black Flags, on ISIS. I know the Omnibus had some cyber enhancement authority in it. Did it address this growing terrorism threat in any kind of way? And I really do hope you’ll read Joby’s book. It’s one of the scariest things I’ve read in a long time.
PR: Okay, I’ll look that up, actually. Send me a message of exactly the name and title.
HH: I will. It’s Black Flags. You won’t miss it, but go ahead.
PR: Black Flags. Okay, Black Flags. So yes, we did the intelligence authorization bill, which was a liberal Senator was trying to hold up the intelligence bill over in the Senate. That’s why we passed it here. The cyber bill helps, gives voluntary reporting and information sharing so that companies cannot be hacked by the likes of ISIS as well. These are very important national security wins. These bills passed the House in the light of day under regular order, and they’re very important to get through. The visa waiver thing is the other thing we put in the Omnibus bill, because a terrorist with a French passport can get on a plane in Paris today and fly here tomorrow and be here 90 days, no questions asked. This is a clear and present danger, the visa waiver program, and that’s why we moved very quickly to get this done. And with respect to our Syria refugee bill, the Senate’s going to be bringing that up over in the Senate at the first of the year.
HH: One last quick question, Mr. Speaker, this is what Mrs. Clinton said on Saturday night, cut number two:
HRC: They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.
HH: That’s just a lie, Mr. Speaker.
HH: What are we going to do about politics that just traffics in lies?
PR: I’m not, I think the fact-checkers got her before the debate was over on that one. I think, I’m pretty sure by the end of the evening, they already verified that she was just making this stuff up. So I think we all need accountability. We need to make sure that people cannot get away with just fabricating things in the public light. And that, to me, just tells you if you want the party of national security, if you want the party that’s going to be strong, that’s going to take the fight to ISIS, that’s going to fully and thoroughly rout and defeat and finish off ISIS, then you know what party it is. It’s our party.
HH: Speaker Ryan, a Merry Christmas to you, and a Happy New Year. I look forward to talking to you in 2016.
End of interview.