WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued this statement following President Trump’s signing of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act:
“This bill is a promise kept to our men and women who serve. To address the military readiness crisis we’ve faced for years, we are implementing this historic funding increase to boost training and upgrade equipment. This legislation reforms the Pentagon to make our military more agile, provides resources to ensure our Armed Forces have the tools needed for modern warfare, and extends funding for global counterterrorism efforts. Importantly, it takes care of service members and their families, with their biggest pay raise in nine years, and funding for the Defense Health Program. Because of the dedication of our service members, America’s might is unmatched around the world.
“It is fitting that the president signed this bill at Fort Drum, which is represented by Elise Stefanik, whose hard work on the Armed Services Committee has helped make this rebuilding of our military possible. With this bill now becoming law, our military knows that Congress is committed to giving them the resources needed to fulfill their missions.”
“By nearly every standard measure, the American economy is doing well — and better than it was a year and a half ago. . .” (The New York Times, 8/10/18)
Tax reform stories keep coming. With the economy booming, historic tax reform continues to deliver on its promises, directly improving the lives of America’s workers and families:
‘Armageddon’ update! All this good news is a far, far cry from the ‘Armageddon’ Democratic leaders predicted. Speaking of which, just this week Leader Pelosi came out and “enthusiastically” doubled down on that doom-and-gloom prognostication. She did this even while conceding that “they say that the economy by all indicators is doing well.” Ah, okay.
“The biggest indicator,” she says, “is the size of the paycheck.” So then it’s good news that so many people are indeed seeing bigger paychecks after tax reform. In fact, worker pay and benefits are rising at their highest rate in 10 years.
Better off now. Some good news features you may have missed this week:
Two years ago, House Republicans unveiled a positive, unified agenda—a better way. We went to the American people and said: If you are tired of our nation going down the wrong path, we have ideas—real solutions—to address some of the biggest challenges we face.
What a difference those two years have made. America is stronger at home and abroad with a booming economy, safer communities, and a stronger military. We put in place a new tax code to help working families; job seekers are entering one of the best job markets in decades; businesses are expanding; we’re strengthening treatment for people struggling with opioid addiction; we’re overhauling our career and technical education system to properly equip students and workers with the skills they need. Below are seven graphics to offer a quick glimpse of how our country is better off now. You can read more at better.gop.
1. Lower Utility Rates for Customers in 48/50 States
2. 4.1% Second-Quarter GDP Growth
3. Projected Job Creation in 2018 Thanks to Tax Reform
4. Unemployment Levels Near Historic Lows
5. Worker Pay Rate Rising
6. Historic Congressional Effort to Combat the Opioid Crisis
7. Increased Support for Our Military
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has issued the following statement:
“While his guilt or innocence is a question for the courts to settle, the allegations against Rep. Collins demand a prompt and thorough investigation by the House Ethics Committee. Insider trading is a clear violation of the public trust. Until this matter is settled, Rep. Collins will not be serving on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.”
Out this morning: Two more indications that confidence is back for American businesses and workers. First, the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index registered record high optimism among small business owners, buoyed by high cash flow and positive views of current finances. Especially noteworthy, “35% of owners expect that the number of jobs at their business will increase over the next year, the second-highest reading on this measure in the history of the index.”
Additionally, the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the Department of Labor showed open jobs hitting 6.662 million in June. The quits rate, a measure of workers voluntarily leaving jobs for new opportunities, “held at the highest in this expansion which shows the confidence that job hoppers have in finding both a new job and higher wages elsewhere,” an investment officer noted.
Editorials we’ve been reading: In the past week, several papers have editorialized on the undeniable economic strength we’re seeing—strength ushered in by Republican policies.
Here are a few excerpts from around the country:
Chicago Tribune: This Is What a Booming Economy Feels Like
“Jobs mean everything to the nation’s sense of well-being. Opportunity offers fulfillment; paychecks create prosperity. Do you feel better about your prospects? You should. The economy is booming.
“But why can’t the growth continue, and accelerate? During much of the 2009-to-present expansion, with President Barack Obama in office, growth trundled along at about 2 percent. President Donald Trump took office saying he wanted to goose the sustained growth rate to 3 percent. He and the Republican-led Congress cut taxes to put money in the pockets of consumers and give businesses an incentive to invest and hire. Both are happening. The Trump administration also is focused on reducing regulatory red tape as an additional inducement to companies to bet on their future.
“Businesses are reacting to those policy changes: Their confidence leads to more investment, which adds jobs and spurs gross domestic product growth. On and on may it go.”
Full piece here.
Boston Herald: So Far So Good on Economy
“Americans are spending their tax cuts and businesses are unrestrained by the burdensome regulations that hindered their growth potential for years. The president is pro-business to the core. There is no doubt about that and it is fair to speculate that his enthusiasm gooses the morale of those in business and finance.”
Full piece here.
Carteret County News-Times: The Economy Rolls
“We dismiss the feeling that we should feel sorry for Democrats who simply can’t accept reality—really good economic news—because they won’t admit that the guy they didn’t vote for is getting something right.”
Full piece here.
Investor’s Business Daily: Trump’s Supply-Side Tax Cuts, Deregulation Vindicated by Big GDP Jump
“And remember this: Business investment grew at a 7.3% annual pace for the quarter, in large part due to corporate tax cuts that have made it profitable for businesses to invest in the U.S. again. Consumer spending, likewise, rose 4% as consumers also had more money in their pockets from tax cuts.”
Full piece here.
After years of being left behind, more Americans are getting a good job, especially those who have had the toughest time finding work. With low unemployment and a resurgence of confidence, more workers are looking for better jobs, and more people are coming off the sidelines. This is what broad and inclusive growth looks like. Here are some snapshots of how more people are climbing the ladder of opportunity:
Better off now. We’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time, whether it’s from December when Democrats said tax reform would mean ‘the end of the world,’ or from two years ago when our economy was stuck, with too many workers and too much capital on the sidelines. Now our economy is seeing real growth again, and more people are getting a chance to work and do what they love. Learn more at better.gop.
After years of struggling to get ahead, the American people are seeing jobs, opportunity, and confidence come roaring back. Look at just the last week, and you’ll see how the economy is taking off, and Americans are better off now:
Let’s go back to last Friday, when the government reported that the economy is growing at its fastest pace in four years. It’s the kind of growth that progressive economists said we couldn’t achieve anymore.
Wednesday brought word that consumer spending continued to increase, and the Federal Reserve emphasized—several times over—the strength of the economy.
On Thursday morning, new data showed unemployment claims continue to remain near their lowest level in 45 years.
And today, the jobs report shows that unemployment is back down under 4 percent, near its lowest level in 18 years.
When’s the last time we had such a great week of economic news like this? It's been too long. And to think that Democrats want to take us backwards. We should be building on this progress—not taking all of it away.
Indeed, more work remains, but this economy is soaring, and Republican policies are helping improve people's lives and making it easier for families to get ahead. Learn more at better.gop.
Republicans in Congress have worked hard to deliver real results, and Americans are better off now. As we enter the final stretch of summer, there's a little more time to reflect on all the good things happening.
In that spirit, here is a handful recent good reads highlighting the economic prosperity and positive change lifting up communities across the country:
Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and The Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James: Tax Cuts Only Help the Wealthy, Right? American Paychecks Show Otherwise
“For the first time in American history, there are more jobs available than people looking for them. Rather than sitting on the sidelines, more workers are eagerly looking for work—which is readily available. A majority of the uptick in new job seekers is fueled by women, individuals with disabilities, and minorities, looking for their first job or reentering the workforce after a poor economy pushed them out many years ago.”
Read the full piece here.
Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL): Americans Are Better Off Now
“One of my biggest concerns during the Obama Administration was the hollowing out of our military. We had planes that couldn’t fly and ships that couldn’t sail. We were not making the continuous critical investment in our military necessary to keep up with our adversaries. Thankfully, those days are over.”
Read the full piece here.
Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer (R-MO): Continuing Working Toward a ‘Better Way’
“To ensure farmers, teachers, small business owners and all Americans can take advantage of our growing economy, we have delivered on our promise to provide regulatory relief that will support investment in our communities. The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act allows community banks to get back to the business of banking, increasing the availability of financial products and ensuring everyone has access to credit.”
Read the full piece here.
Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA): For Tax Reform, the Best Is Yet to Come
“At an incredible, veteran-owned company in Savannah, I learned that, because of tax reform, the company is able to give their employees more, and it’s the difference between being able to buy Christmas presents for their children or not. At another small business in Homerville, I learned that the new tax law has allowed them to purchase new equipment to grow their company at a substantial rate.”
Read the full piece here.
Sens. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Joni Ernst (R-IA): Why We Believe so Strongly in the Power of ‘Opportunity Zones’
“Perhaps our favorite part of the Opportunity Zones program is that it is powered from the ground up, not the federal government in Washington, D.C….Zones were nominated by mayors and governors, because folks here at home in Iowa know where help is needed the most. Unlike other programs attempting to help those in need in the past, there is no federal bureaucracy created by Opportunity Zones, meaning red tape will not get in the way.”
Read the full piece here.
In the 31 days of July, we took 3,293 photos documenting the speaker’s daily schedule. Now, this is a photo round-up. So, we’ve selected just seven photos from the seventh month to give a behind-the-scenes look at the happenings of July.
Here are some of our favorite moments:
1. Tax Reform 2.0 – In just over six short months, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has kicked our economy into high gear. Speaker Ryan meet with Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) to discuss next steps for Tax Cuts 2.0, coming this fall.
2. Wardrobe (Un)Coordination – Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) share a laugh after showing up for work wearing identical patriotic ties.
3. A Timely Discussion – In an age of tribalism and identity politics, it’s important that our society upholds its constitutional principles and mediating institutions. Speaker Ryan and author Jonah Goldberg sit down to discuss these topics at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute.
4. A Voice for the Voiceless – Every day, North Koreans are subject to brutal persecution by the Kim regime. The North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act renews measures to promote human rights and shine a light on what’s happening to the people of North Korea. Speaker Ryan congratulates the law’s author, retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)—a true voice for the voiceless.
5. Room Rededication – Speaker Ryan greets Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) at the rededication ceremony for his namesake hearing room. The Sam Johnson Room was recently updated to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, and redone in an Air Force blue and silver color scheme.
6. A Conversation with Interns – Speaker Ryan sits down with his second group of summer interns to hear about their experiences working in the office and learn more about their career goals.
7. Discovering Family Roots – While taping an episode of PBS's Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr., Speaker Ryan learns that he is three percent Ashkenazi Jewish.
July also brought about the unveiling of House Republicans’ “Better Off Now” campaign—that with a booming economy, safer communities, and a stronger military, Americans are better off now. Speaker Ryan spoke about our booming economy an event hosted by The Economic Club of Washington, D.C. With the Better Off Now campaign also comes new pamphlets, and everyone knows the speaker loves a good pamphlet.
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the following statement on President Trump’s signing of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act:
“As this bill becomes law of the land, we are moving closer to a workforce equipped for our 21st century economy. By transforming our career and technical education system into one that provides appropriate training, I am hopeful that we can close the skills gap and get more workers prepared to enter fulfilling jobs. This will empower more American job seekers as they work to get ahead. I commend Chairwoman Virginia Foxx and Rep. G.T. Thompson for putting together a thoughtful bill that will open real opportunities for people.”
NOTE: Last week, Speaker Ryan signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act at his weekly press conference.
They said it couldn’t be done. ‘They,’ in this case, are progressive economists, and ‘it’ is strong economic growth.
Where we were: Friday’s news that our economy is growing at its fastest rate since 2014 shows just how far we’ve come in a relatively short time. Remember that growth during the Obama administration was so slow for so long that it was called the ‘new normal.’ Progressive economists peddled the notion of ‘secular stagnation,’ that this was as good as things would get, and we should get used to it. Larry Summers described it as “a kind of long term and sustained slow-down in economic growth.”
Path of growth: We are putting those days behind us. Earlier this month, Speaker Ryan talked about how we’ve put our economy back on a path of healthy growth in a speech to The Economic Club of Washington, D.C.:
“We were drifting toward a low-wage, low-growth future. As growth slowed, an economist at Northwestern wrote a paper titled, ‘Is Economic Growth Over?’ That path—which many so-called experts were saying was the best we could hope to achieve—was leading us straight to stagnation . . .
“After years of stagnation, our economy is finally on the rise. By just about any economic measure, the American people are better off now.
“Remember how, not too long ago, we were being told to just get used to stagnation, get used to the new normal. Well, that narrative’s sell-by date has now come and gone.” Watch the speech.
After Friday’s report, this turnaround was hammered home in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:
“Throughout the Obama years, progressive economists said Americans had become too old, lazy and complacent to achieve the growth that was regular before 2009. But somehow American workers overcame all of these supposed weaknesses when Mr. Trump changed federal policy. The problem was not our people but our government. Stagnation is not fate but a political choice.”
Better off now: We’ve chosen to put America back on a path of growth, and the American people are better off now. Unemployment is down, wages are rising, confidence is returning, growth is back. Learn more at better.gop.
“Second-quarter GDP jumps 4.1% for best pace in nearly four years. Gross domestic product grew at a solid 4.1 percent pace in the second quarter. . .That's the fastest rate of the growth since the third quarter of 2014 and the third-best growth rate since the Great Recession. In addition to the strong second quarter, the Commerce Department revised its first-quarter reading up from 2 percent 2.2 percent.” (CNBC)
“The U.S. economy had a blockbuster second quarter, with growth surging to a 4.1 percent pace, the Commerce Department said Friday. That was nearly double the first quarter rate of 2.2 percent and the strongest pace in nearly four years.” (NPR)
“The sweeping Republican tax cuts that took effect in January were likely a major contributing factor, permanently slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and increasing many workers' take-home pay.” (Fox News)
“Consumer spending propelled U.S. economic growth to a 4.1 percent pace in the second quarter, the fastest since 2014. . . In addition to lower taxes, consumers' purchasing power is benefiting from steady hiring, an unemployment rate that's near the lowest since 1969, improving finances, relatively low borrowing costs and contained inflation.” (Bloomberg)
“The U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in nearly four years in the second quarter. . . .Consumer spending is being driven by the lower taxes and a robust labor market, which created an average of 215,000 jobs per month in the first half of this year.” (Reuters)
“It was the strongest quarter of growth since 2014. . . . ‘The bottom line is that the economy is doing better,’ said Diane Swonk, chief economist for the accounting firm Grant Thornton.” (The New York Times)
“Economic growth depends a lot on how consumers and businesses feel about the economy. When individuals are positive about their finances they are more likely to spend, and the same goes for businesses. Tax reform was meant to boost both individuals and businesses, lowering the corporate tax rates to increase the money businesses have to invest in growth while also increasing take home pay for many Americans. The latest GDP reading suggests that this strategy is working.” (Fox Business)
“By many metrics, the United States economy is in excellent shape: Unemployment is near an 18-year low, factories are seeing more orders, and exports are surging.” (CNNMoney)
Learn more about how Americans are Better Off Now.
Great news: The nation’s economy grew by 4.1 percent in the second quarter. It’s the fastest rate of growth in nearly four years.
“The bottom line is that the economy is doing better,” one economist told The New York Times.
This is yet another indication that our economy is surging, and Americans are better off now.
As Bloomberg noted, “In addition to lower taxes, consumers' purchasing power is benefiting from steady hiring, an unemployment rate that's near the lowest since 1969, improving finances, relatively low borrowing costs and contained inflation.”
This is no accident. House Republicans have delivered on an agenda to get America’s economy back on a path to growth, and get more Americans on to the ladder of opportunity:
And we’re taking steps to bring more workers into the fold. Just this week, Congress passed a complete overhaul of our career and technical education system to help match more people with the jobs available in our modern economy.
We have come a long way from the gloom and stagnation of recent years. Just days after the last election, Paul Krugman predicted, “So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight.
Americans have proven the cynics wrong once again. We are making people’s lives better. Americans are better off now.
Summary: At his weekly press conference, Speaker Ryan enrolled a bipartisan bill to overhaul our career and technical education system, helping close the skills gap and match more job seekers with employment opportunities. He also spoke about how the House Republican Better Way agenda has made Americans’ daily lives better.
Overhauling Career and Technical Education
“I am about to sign H.R. 2353, so that we can send it to the president’s desk. I am really excited about this bill. This is a big piece of our Better Way agenda.
“This provides for a complete overhaul of our career and our technical education system.
“I see [Rep.] G.T. Thompson is here, the author of the bill. So I’m very, very, very proud of this effort that he, and all of our colleagues, have put together.
“One obstacle that workers across the country are facing today is that there’s a job that they want, but they don’t have quite the right skills to take that job.
“We call this the skills gap.
“It is a big reason why, right now, we actually have more job openings in America than we have people looking for work.
“That’s a big piece of the skills gap.
“So the demand for skilled workers keeps growing, but Washington has badly been behind the curve on this. We have not properly equipped our education system.
“This changes that. This closes the skills gap.
“Students and workers are now going to have a much clearer path to all of the great career and technical education programs that are out there. We have a bunch of these in Southern Wisconsin.
“I see it all the time where I come from. Great careers, great jobs are being offered, people need work, but they don’t have the skills to get these careers and jobs. This closes that gap.
“There could not be a better time to do this, with the economy back on track, and businesses expanding and hiring again.
“So we’re very excited about this.
“Now, this didn’t get a lot of headlines. This did not get a big, splashy news story. This wasn’t the ticker on the TV. This was not on the front page.
“But this matters.
“It will make people better off. It will make it easier for people to provide for their families.
“This is the kind of thing that I’m in this job for. This is the kind of thing that [Rep.] G.T. Thompson’s in this job for.
“It’s why I’m here. It’s why we come to these jobs: to improve people’s lives. To take good ideas, and turn them into real results that will make a lasting difference for people.”
“Just look at some of the things that we’ve gotten done in just the last few months alone. We are producing.
“Better care for our veterans. Better access to credit for small businesses. Hope for the terminally ill. More tools to fight transnational gangs like MS-13. More resources to fight opioids, the biggest congressional effort of its kind in history.
“And today—right now, you can see the vote on the floor—the national defense bill to rebuild our military.
“Things like this—things like these—they may not make the cut against the palace intrigue and all the countdown clocks, but we are getting things done to improve people’s lives.
“And, of course, I want to encourage you, I get to do this again, I really enjoy this, I want to encourage you to go to better.gop to see that we’ve been making good on our promises. To see that we’ve been making good on executing our agenda.
“And as a result of our Better Way agenda getting into place, becoming law, people are better off now.
“So go to better.gop to learn more about all of these things.”
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the following statement on the passage of the conference report for the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act:
“This is a major step forward in rebuilding our military. This bill invests in our service members, through both a pay raise for our troops and funding for updated equipment and training. It provides resources to ensure our armed forces are equipped to face the emerging challenges of modern warfare, includes strategic priorities for supporting our allies, and helps defend against hostility from countries like Russia and China. And it provides continued support for our military in the fight against global terrorism.
“Our men and women in uniform deserve the assurance that Congress is committed to giving them the tools they need. This is the earliest we have finished the national defense bill since 1977, reflecting the urgency of this legislation and underscoring our commitment to our service members. I commend Chairman Mac Thornberry, the members of the Armed Services Committee, and all of the conferees for their tireless work.”
WASHINGTON—Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released this statement on the passage of the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act:
“One of our best assets in realizing the American Idea is having an education system that helps people reach their potential and fulfill their aspirations. That’s why this bill is so important. It is a complete overhaul of our country’s career and technical education system. In this economy, with millions of open jobs, there is no reason Americans seeking employment should lack the training to find it. This will help more people acquire the right skills to fill a good-paying job.
“Here are some things that this bill does. It promotes career and technical education at the state level, providing funding and flexibility for programs. It refocuses programs on student outcomes to ensure students receive the most effective training possible, truly preparing them to enter the workforce. And it brings technical education into the 21st century by enhancing skills training to better match the jobs available in a modern economy. These are exciting steps, and I want to thank Chairwoman Foxx, Rep. Thompson, and all the members of the Education and the Workforce Committee who have been working on this for years.
“We are pleased to deliver on another key plank of our Better Way agenda. This will help more Americans get on the path of life, and we can’t wait to see all the good it will do for our economy and countless families. We look forward to sending this to the president’s desk to become law of the land.”
NOTE: For more information about the House’s efforts to improve career and technical education, click here.
As we speak, the House has begun debating bipartisan legislation to overhaul our nation’s career and technical education system. It will help more Americans get into good-paying jobs and careers by acquiring the right skills to compete in the workforce.
Right now, the economy is doing well, to the point that we have more job openings in America than we do job-seekers. The challenge is finding workers with the right skills to fill these in-demand jobs. This bill, a critical piece of our Better Way agenda, will help close that skills gap.
The Education and the Workforce Committee has all the background you need on the bill. Here’s a little timeline from us:
June 7, 2016: As part of the Better Way plan to fight poverty and promote upward mobility, Republicans call for improving career and technical education. “Federal policy must seize the opportunity to help Americans—young and old—develop the skills that lead to high-paying jobs,” the report says.
June 22, 2017: The House passes the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. At a press conference earlier in the week, Speaker Ryan calls for expanding CTE: “We have to close this skills gap. This is huge in the Midwest. It’s something I hear about every single time I tour a business.”
September 18, 2017: Speaker Ryan visits a career and technical education program in New Berlin, WI, where they help students explore specific areas of interest. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports, “’Preparing students like New Berlin does, as well as helping students develop in other ways like become ‘lifelong learners,’ is exactly what others should also be doing,’ Ryan said. ‘What you’re doing here is exactly what we’re hoping to see all over the place.’”
March 2018: Congress passes a critical funding bill to boost funding for workforce development in high-growth job fields, including a $75 million increase for career and technical education programs.
July 12, 2018: Speaker Ryan continues his push for strengthening career and technical education in a speech to The Economic Club of Washington, DC: “We need to recognize that the competitiveness of our economy is inextricably linked to the competitiveness of our workforce. … We have boosted resources for workforce development programs in high-growth fields. And the House has passed a great bipartisan bill to expand career and technical education.”
July 25, 2018: The House takes up the final version of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. One of the bill’s authors, Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), and Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) tout “making better career and technical education options a reality for millions of Americans.”
WASHINGTON—In an address to the Congressional Summer Intern Lecture Series, hosted by the Committee on House Administration and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke about rediscovering our common humanity to restore civility and strengthen civil society. His remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:
I love that we do this. I love that we bring together young people from both sides of the aisle.
I was an intern, once upon a time. I started out in the mailroom in Russell on the Senate side. Eventually I figured out that the House side was a lot better.
In between, I spent most nights waiting tables over at Tortilla Coast. At closing time, I would grab a bottle of Pacifico and hang out with the busboys.
These days, when my shift ends, it might be a Miller Lite with a colleague, followed by a call with my family. But in many respects, not much has changed for me.
One of my daily prayers is to keep my sense of self: my enthusiasm for ideas, my passion for policy…my sense of things that brought me here.
So I see myself in you, to say the least. I see that drive and curiosity. The challenge is to sustain that energy, to keep that faith in the future.
This is a challenge for all of us right now, isn’t it?
Curiosity can often seem no match for cynicism. Disillusionment is fast becoming our default state.
On the Fourth of July, Gallup reported an alarming drop in American patriotism. Only 47 percent of adults now say they are ‘extremely proud’ to be Americans. This is a record low.
Here is the way I see this: it is no longer just that our passions are getting the best of us. More and more, our politics is enabling the worst in us.
We no longer see our opponents as ‘the other side,’ but simply as ‘the others,’ as targets. As someone not fundamentally like us.
The more politics preys on our divisions, the more we become defined by them.
It leads to a view of life and society as a zero-sum game where one group has to win at the expense of the other.
All of this is slipping further into our daily lives. We too easily retreat to the comfort, and conformity, of our tribes.
This blinds us to the perspectives that others bring to the table. In turn, we ourselves don’t reach out, don’t offer our time and energy.
And social media just amplifies all of these trends. It is an industry where you can make money feeding fear and resentment.
We are caught in this paradox where we are more connected than ever, but we could not feel more disconnected or more alienated.
That’s why, for all of the big challenges out there, the one that keeps me so concerned is what’s going on in our civic life.
So, the question is: what do we do about it?
Well, always remember that our country is this beautiful idea, this awesome experiment.
It gives us the chance to be free, and to be happy.
It also gives us the space to resolve our differences, and work together to advance a vision of liberty and justice for all.
Guess what? It is our job to preserve all this. And it is a job. It is real work, but it is certainly worth the effort.
After all, the American Idea has made us the most free, the most flourishing, the most generous country on Earth.
We can never take this for granted.
And we won’t so long as we remember our common humanity.
We just cannot let our divisions overtake our basic respect for another.
We need to recognize that we are all less-than-perfect. We all fall short, we all struggle. We all want to be heard, and to be needed.
Our humanity spurs us to find perspective, to listen, and to lend a hand.
This is without question the greatest antidote, the greatest antibody, we have against the forces of alienation.
By rediscovering our common humanity, we can take the oxygen out of tribalism and identity politics.
One way we can do this is through a resurgence of ideas. Of substance. Of reason. By actually engaging on the merits.
The first, maybe best, advice I ever received here came, believe it or not, from a liberal Massachusetts Democrat. During my freshman orientation, I had breakfast with Barney Frank.
He told me that what he loved about the House is how it is a genuine meritocracy. You get ahead based on the power of your ideas, and your ability to make a persuasive case for them.
These days, we don’t even really set out to persuade anymore. We just hit each over the head until the music stops.
For all the provocation, there isn’t much that’s actually thought-provoking. We rarely skim below the surface.
We shouldn’t derive our meaning from building a brand around ourselves. We should derive our meaning from our commitment to our ideas, our convictions.
Rather than just searching for the nearest echo chamber, putting our ideas to the test makes us strengthen and improve them.
It makes us better, and gives us more perspective, too.
We can also rediscover our common humanity by improving the tone, and raising the level, of our debates.
It is well-trodden ground to note that we need to disagree without being disagreeable.
But this is not just about good manners; it is about the manner of how we govern. It is about our ability to solve problems.
Civility is a civic imperative. A healthy discourse allows us to navigate our disagreements in the search for common ground. To accept good ideas, even if our side didn’t come up with them.
Too often right now, if one side is for it, the other is against it. No questions asked.
At this point, we have reduced our debates to a stream of hot takes and tweets.
But our discourse, at its most vibrant, is not just a visceral show of hands. It is a show of heart, a place where we come together for thoughtful discussion.
We deconstruct each other’s arguments, instead of just impugning each other’s motives.
Sometimes things get a little heated. Just search my mentions on Twitter, and you will see exactly what I mean.
That’s okay. I can’t control that. But what I can do is control my own actions. So I choose not to respond in kind, but to respond with kindness. Just let people get stuff off of their chest, and move on.
I know that snark sells, but it doesn’t stick. It doesn’t last. It doesn’t unite people around a bigger idea or a greater cause.
Personal engagement takes work, it takes patience. It takes following my mother’s advice to use two ears, and one mouth, in that proportion.
We need to revitalize the battle of ideas, and be grateful for the chance to do this every day.
One big thing we can do to rediscover our common humanity is to strengthen the very institutions that promote togetherness and connect us to one another.
This may sound heavy, but it’s important.
We call these the mediating institutions in civil society. But it’s all really just a way of describing the community. It’s the churches and charities, the PTAs and Little Leagues, the food banks and shelters.
Think of how you have come to know different people, and how you have benefited from their perspective. That is the value of mediating institutions, and civil society.
Many of you have studied Alexis deTocqueville. Well, he thought this was actually the genius of our democracy, how we are constantly uniting every day in some way.
It’s true, and refreshing, especially compared to what often goes on this bubble.
But now, as politics increasingly overtakes our daily lives, it breeds a narrow vision of society where there are only two actors: the individual and the government.
This diminishes what goes on in the space between. It crowds out civil society, where the stuff of life happens.
It is where we form our passions, and learn different perspectives.
If we want to rediscover our common humanity, we need to expand the space for civil society. We need to give these institutions the maximum freedom to help people.
Over the years, I have met incredible leaders changing lives in our communities.
One of them is Shirley Holloway.
Shirley runs a shelter a few miles from here, in Anacostia. It is called House of Help, City of Hope. They have served thousands of people struggling with addiction and helplessness.
Shirley doesn’t just get people off the streets, she gets them back on the path of life.
Her motto is: “We don’t see the problem; we see the person.”
These are good words to live by, and they really sum up my message today: see the person, not the problem.
This is where the road back to our common humanity starts: with engaging each other more, with engaging in the community more.
It’s about keeping your cool, and keeping your sense of self.
To boil it all down, here is the choice you will need to make. It is a choice I always tell our new members that they need to make.
Did you come here just to be something, just to build a brand?
Or are you here to do your part, to make a real difference?
If you are, we need you. We need doers. We need leaders.
So as you go back to your campuses and communities, think about ways you can engage people more, on policy and the problems of the day.
Start there. Take that first step. Think about how you can apply what you’ve learned here.
Remember, we don’t have to be trapped by cynicism.
We don’t have to lower our sights. We should always raise our gaze.
Thank you for listening. I look forward to taking your questions.
Two years ago, House Republicans laid out a bold policy agenda called ‘A Better Way’ to get America back on track. This morning, Speaker Ryan joined Fox & Friends to discuss how we have delivered on those promises and Americans are ‘Better Off Now.’ Watch the full interview here and check out the excerpts below.
‘We kept our promises’
Speaker Ryan: “Two years ago House Republicans ran on a platform called ‘The Better Way’ and then along with the newly elected President Trump guess what we did? We did what we said we were going to do, we kept our promises and we enacted a very promising agenda that is now occurring and what's the result? We are stronger at home and abroad, we are rebuilding our military, we are confronting the opioids crisis, we’re ending human trafficking, we are fixing things so that we improve people's lives and so take a look, we now are showing that we are ‘Better Off Now.’ You can go to better.gov to see all the accomplishments that we, along with the President, have put into place to dramatically improve people's lives.”
‘We have a great contrast’
Speaker Ryan: “We have 4% unemployment. More job openings than people looking for work in America today. Wages are up, the economy is soaring. These are good things and great results to run on…What do democrats want to do? They want to abolish ICE, a government guaranteed job, they want to get rid of private health insurance and have a government takeover of the health care system. They are going so far left. So I think we have a great contrast, a really good track record and good story to tell and that's what we’re going to be telling this fall.”
‘We have a lot to do’
Speaker Ryan: “Just this week we are going to finish our bill to rebuild the military, the Defense Authorization Bill. We will finish today our Career in Technical Education Bill, a complete overhaul of career and technical education…that's already out of the Senate now, we passed it out of the House, it's going to go into law…This is our goal to focus on closing skills gap, to get people the skills they need to get good careers and then when we come back, we’re going to work on making the tax cuts permanent, we’ve got appropriation bills we’re going to be passing. We don't want to have some big omnibus at end of the day. We want to pass these separate appropriation bills, so we have a plan to do that. And then we have all these infrastructure bills that we are working through the system. This is the President's infrastructure agenda that we have been talking about and we are very excited about getting these infrastructure bills done as well.”
Shortly, Speaker Ryan will be speaking to a group of Capitol Hill interns about rediscovering our common humanity as a way to restore civil discourse and strengthen civil society. Following his remarks, Speaker Ryan will field questions. But to get the conversation started, we had the speaker read a sampling of some recent tweets directed his way. (The ones we could safely publish anyway.) Click here to watch the video. And watch the event live at 10:45 a.m. ET.
Today, the Capitol Hill community marked the 20th anniversary of the deaths of Officer Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson, Capitol Police who bravely gave their lives defending the United States Capitol from an armed attacker in 1998. Speaker Ryan and Congressional Leaders gathered with the families of the fallen officers at the Memorial Door, where a plaque hangs in their memory.
In honoring their sacrifice, we express our gratitude for the service of all Capitol Police, as well as every man and woman who wears the badge in communities all across the United States.
Summary: At today’s House Republican Leadership press conference, Speaker Ryan discussed how policies passed during this Congress have given Americans reason to be optimistic. With safer communities, an improved veterans’ health care system, and growing economic opportunities, Americans are now headed toward a more prosperous future.
“I was actually in the first grade the last time we passed a defense authorization bill this fast.
“First, as a country, we have a lot of reasons to be optimistic right now.
“Two years ago, we were on a very, very different path. That’s why we proposed a positive agenda that we called the 'Better Way.'
“What a difference those two years have made. The American people are better off now.
“Let me just show you something. You remember this? [Jake] Sherman, don’t shake your head, come on.
“The American people are better off now because of our Better Way agenda that we passed and put into place.
“This is improving people’s lives. This is making a difference in this country.
“We have a veterans’ health care system being reformed for the better.
“We have safer communities. We have stronger prevention and we have a treatment network that is going into place for opioid addiction.
“We’ve unraveled regulations that are ensnaring small businesses and banks.
“We have a new tax code that supports working families rather than holding them back.
“And our economy is thriving.
“This is no coincidence. This is because of our relentless work.
“This is because we took our principles—the classic, timeless principles that built this country—put them into policies to make a difference in people’s lives, and we are now seeing those policies bear fruit and improve people’s lives.
“Job seekers are now entering one of the best job markets in decades.
“Businesses are clamoring for more workers to meet rising demand.
“Confidence is climbing—even among Americans who have a harder time getting ahead. This is so important.
“French [Hill] just talked about opportunity zones. Those are just now being rolled out so we can get people out of poverty, onto the ladder of opportunity.
“Confidence is climbing even among those Americans.
“Wages are rising. Capital spending is growing.
“Businesses are expanding again. This all means more hiring and creating new opportunities for people within their communities.
“All of this has returned us to a path of growth and a path of prosperity.
“But that path could be altered for the worse—and that’s exactly what Democrats have said that they’ll do if given the chance.
“They have scoffed at Americans who benefited from more money in their paychecks. They’re determined to erase this progress.
“Even more, they want to take this country to a dramatically different place, to the far left: They want to abolish ICE, they want single-payer, government-run health care, guaranteed [government] jobs, massive tax increases.
“So, of course, we have more work to do.
“But rolling back all of this progress we have made is the last thing that hard-working taxpayers want to see happen.
“There are still Americans who need to be encouraged to get in the fold. There are still Americans who want to get off the sidelines, into the job market, getting their skills.
“That’s why we’re excited about bringing career and technical education to the floor again this week.
“This is an exciting development for the American people, because we’re going to get more people on the ladder of opportunity, on the path of life.
“The American people are better off now.
“And just go to better.gop to learn more.”
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the following statement on President Trump’s workforce development executive order:
“We need to prepare more Americans for jobs in the modern economy, but we’ve been stuck using 20th-century tools to address 21st-century problems. Companies know the skills needed to fill their open jobs. By encouraging public-private collaboration to provide apprenticeships, education, and training, we can better match workers with the opportunities that abound in such a strong economy. This is the right place to be focusing our workforce development efforts, and today’s actions are a promising step.”
NOTE: Last week in his speech to The Economic Club of Washington, D.C., Speaker Ryan emphasized the need for workforce development, and discussed the partnership between Gateway Tech and Foxconn in Wisconsin as an example of this type of training program.
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today released this statement on the passage of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act and the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act:
“With these critical funding bills, the House is taking action to make government work more effectively for communities. This Interior and Environment Appropriations bill provides vital resources to firefighters battling wildfires throughout the West. It empowers local governments to provide services in their communities and it reins in needless regulation, including fully repealing the harmful Obama-era Waters of the United States Rule. Our natural resources and federal lands are part of America’s unique heritage, and this funding will help continue their preservation.
“The Financial Services Appropriations bill provides much-needed funding. It continues Congress’s relentless efforts against the opioid epidemic by providing funding for the Office of National Drug Policy. It puts resources in the hands of law enforcement so they can continue keeping our communities safe and cracks down on terror financing globally. And it promotes business formation and economic growth by funding loan programs for small businesses and programs for veterans and women entrepreneurs. With these bills, the House is continuing its work to carry out responsible funding while maintaining accountability to the American taxpayer.”
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today named Republican lawmakers to the House-Senate conference committee on the Farm Bill. Last month, the House passed H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act, which includes critical reforms to close the skills gap and help more Americans move from welfare to work.
“We see this Farm Bill as pivotal for building a sturdier ladder of opportunity in America,” Speaker Ryan said. “With all this momentum in our economy, there could not be a better time to help more people move from welfare to work. This is a chance to close the skills gap, better equip our workforce, and support much-needed development in rural communities. I look forward to working with Chairman Conaway and all of these lawmakers on these vital reforms.”
Earlier today, the Speaker’s office released an overview of how the House Farm Bill helps more Americans move from welfare to work. This represents the last plank of our Better Way agenda.
House Agriculture Committee
1. Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX)
2. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA)
3. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
4. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK)
5. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL)
6. Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA)
7. Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR)
8. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
9. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)
10. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)
11. Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC)
12. Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS)
13. Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX)
House Education and the Workforce Committee
1. Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
2. Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA)
House Energy and Commerce Committee
1. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL)
2. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
House Financial Services Committee
1. Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
2. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI)
House Foreign Affairs Committee
1. Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA)
2. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH)
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
1. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC)
2. Rep. James Comer (R-KY)
House Natural Resources Committee
1. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT)
2. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR)
House Science, Space, and Technology Committee
1. Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA)
2. Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL)
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
1. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA)
2. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH)
Today, the House will take the next step toward critical reforms to help more Americans move from welfare to work. We will vote to establish a conference committee with the Senate to develop a final Farm Bill—a main plank of our workforce development agenda. Here are three reasons this is so important:
1) More Americans are looking for work and more companies are looking for workers. Last month, more than 600,000 people joined the workforce. That is great news. We have 6.6 million jobs open right now in our country—at least one job for every American in search of one. But our labor participation rate still remains relatively low. “Between 1965 and 2015, the number of prime-age men neither working nor looking for work grew more than three times faster than the number in the workforce,” resulting in 7 million men missing from the labor force. One in seven 16-24 year olds in the U.S. are neither in school nor working, totaling more than 5.5 million “disconnected” youth nationwide.
2) Our federal benefits framework is not doing enough to incentivize work. The growth of federal programs provides some color—the last time the unemployment rate was at 4 percent, there were 17 million Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. Today, with that same unemployment level, there are more than 42 million. We need to make reforms so that these programs encourage work and provide training for those who are work-capable but may not have the adequate skills to secure a good-paying job.
3) The House Farm Bill ties work requirements to work supports, empowering people to get back into the workforce, find a career path, and fulfill their true potential.
It’s a model that works. A new Council of Economic Advisers report noted, “evidence suggests that welfare programs that require work in return for benefits increase adult employment and may improve child outcomes.”
The report, which looks at welfare reform during the 1990s, uses the shift to the work-focused Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program as one of the factors in improved outcomes among the program’s recipients. “Between 1996 and 2000, TANF receipt by single mothers fell by 53 percent, their employment rate increased by 10 percent, and their poverty rate fell by 20 percent.”
The report also notes the effectiveness of work-promoting incentives like the Earned Income Tax Credit. Work requirements for SNAP may act as a complement to these credits, pulling even more people out of poverty and onto a path to prosperity.
As The Wall Street Journal editorialized earlier this year, “Paying people to make it easy not to work—and thus languish for a lifetime in poverty—is not compassionate. It’s destructive of human dignity and leads to more inequality. Republicans are right that welfare reform will assist American upward mobility, and they should take the case to the public.”
Americans are better off now in this booming economy, and this is one way we can make things even better for more families. “If we can get these things right—helping more students get into good jobs and careers, and helping more people get out of poverty into the workforce—those are big changes,” Speaker Ryan said last week, “Those are things that will help restore intergenerational mobility for families and communities.”
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued the following statement after meeting with Speaker Radek Vondráček of the Czech Chamber of Deputies:
“This year marks a major milestone—100 years—in relations between the United States and the Czech Republic. The deep ties between our countries, grounded in common values, are represented in the Václav Havel bust in Freedom Foyer of the U.S. Capitol. It was Havel who said to Congress in 1990, ‘Our freedom, independence and our newborn democracy have been purchased at great cost, and we shall not surrender them.’
“In this spirit of solidarity, it was my honor to welcome Speaker Vondráček to the Capitol, and repay his hospitality of earlier this spring. We continued our dialogue on the critical issues we discussed in March, including the importance of the NATO alliance and regional security cooperation. As I said when I was in Prague, it is more vital than ever for our countries to be united in our commitment to Western ideals and interests.”
NOTE: In March, Speaker Ryan made an official visit to Prague to mark the centennial of U.S.-Czech relations. In an address to the Czech Parliament, he called for solidarity in the defense of freedom and democratic institutions, and stronger economic and defense ties among Western allies.
WASHINGTON—Following the overwhelmingly bipartisan passage of the JOBS and Investor Confidence Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued this statement:
“This is a big day for American entrepreneurship and job creation. During this Congress, we’ve lifted burdensome regulations off the backs of small banks, credit unions, and small businesses, removing barriers to lending and expansion. It is one reason Americans are better off now.
“This bill builds on that progress by making it easier for small businesses and start-ups to access capital markets for the financing they need. It also updates the process for public offerings, encouraging companies to tap into a pool of potential investors in public markets. These reforms enable innovators to raise capital and serve as catalysts for job creation and growth—igniting an already accelerating economy. I want to thank Chairman Jeb Hensarling for his leadership, and we look forward to the Senate taking action on this consequential bipartisan legislation.”
Summary: At the weekly Republican Leadership press conference, Speaker Ryan discussed a package of bills the House will consider today to promote capital formation and job creation, to build even further upon recent economic success. “The American people are better off now,” Speaker Ryan said, and “we need to keep it going.”
“Morning. I recently had the chance to visit a couple manufacturers up in Minneapolis-St.Paul.
“And the story there is very similar to what we are seeing all around the country.
“More people are finding work. Companies are expanding. Confidence is surging.
“Our policies have helped create this climate. This is a climate of growth.
“The American people are better off now. And we need to keep it going.
“This week, we’ll consider legislation to make it easier for small companies to access the capital markets—it’s a key source of financing.
“This is where most new jobs come from: new companies.
“It will cut down on regulations that are holding back small businesses and start-ups.
“It’s the third piece in a line of critical bipartisan bills aimed at creating jobs, unlocking innovation, and driving growth.
“This will help us sustain the positive growth that we are already seeing.
“And this all gets us back to creating an environment where entrepreneurs can succeed and workers can get ahead.
“I want to commend Chairman Jeb Hensarling, and I want to commend Mia Love, from the Financial Services Committee, for their efforts in bringing this really critical bipartisan legislation to the floor.
“One thing I heard about in the Twin Cities is the need for more workers and especially workers with the right skills.
“This is a new, sort of good problem that we have these days: We have jobs, but we need workers with skills to fill those jobs.
“Soon, we will be taking the next step on the Farm Bill.
“Our version would retool the SNAP program to focus on encouraging recipients to enter the workforce.
“This is a model that we should be moving to—helping more Americans reach their potential, moving from welfare to work, getting on the ladder of life.
“In this economy, there is no better time to do this.
“Just go to better.gop to learn more.”
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today issued the following statement:
"There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world. That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy."
Summary: “The American people are better off now,” Speaker Ryan said today at his weekly press conference. Building on remarks he made this morning to The Economic Club of Washington, D.C, Speaker Ryan discussed the revitalized economy, improved opportunities for workers, and other ways the country is on a better path now.
“This morning, a little ways down the road, I talked about the economic resurgence that’s going on in our country right now.
“After struggling to get ahead for so long, this has been a breakthrough year for America’s workers.
“Unemployment has fallen to historic lows, job openings have reached record highs.
“After tax reform, paychecks are growing. Wages are rising. Confidence is returning.
“The American people are better off now.
“We’re building a stronger economy, and we’re also building a stronger military, as well—a military that is finally getting the resources that it needs to rebuild.
“We’re providing better pay for our service members. We’re providing better care for our veterans.
“We’re building stronger and safer communities, through:
“An historic effort to combat the opioid epidemic.
“Taking on human trafficking.
“Targeting gangs and dangerous criminals.
“Making schools safer.
“I could go on and on, but if you go to better.gop, you can see the progress that we are making.
“More work remains, of course, especially when it comes to getting people into good-paying jobs and good careers.
“That’s what our workforce development agenda is all about.
“But Americans have proven, once again, that we can achieve great things when we raise our sights, when we reapply our founding principles to the problems of the day.
“That is the story that is going on right now in America.
“We delivered on a positive agenda, and now we are seeing positive results that are improving people’s lives.
“The American people are better off now.
“So just go to better.gop to learn more.”
WASHINGTON—In a speech to The Economic Club of Washington, D.C., House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke about how the policies of House Republicans have put the country back on a brighter path to prosperity and how Americans are Better Off Now.
Following are Speaker Ryan’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, David, and thank you all for being here this morning. I am grateful for the chance to share a few thoughts about the state of our economy.
What guides me, what guides us, in this work is growth. Economic growth does not solve all of our problems, but it certainly makes our problems easier to solve.
Growth is the beating heart of a free economy. The stronger it is, the more opportunity there is, the more mobility there is. Growth is what gives us momentum, gives us room to run.
In our lives, it is the difference between being stuck and moving ahead on the path of life. For our country, it is the difference between leading in the world, and lagging behind.
Yet, not too long ago, we were on a very different, and dangerous, path. People were working harder to get ahead only to fall further behind. Economic anxiety and uncertainty blanketed our country.
We were drifting toward a low-wage, low-growth future. As growth slowed, an economist at Northwestern wrote a paper titled, “Is Economic Growth Over?”
That path—which many so-called experts were saying was the best we could hope to achieve—was leading us straight to stagnation. It was leading us to a class-based society where we view life and society as a zero-sum game.
Our tax code had become the embodiment of this drift, a delivery device for managed decline.
It held back families living paycheck-to-paycheck, while stockpiling loopholes and carve outs for the well-connected. It enabled foreign competitors to overtake us, and brazenly take our jobs and our capital.
Around the world, countries began to take advantage of our drift, making their own systems more attractive for investment and lowering their tax rates. In the UK, they went down to 19 percent. Ireland, 12 and a half. In 2017 alone, 8 OECD countries reduced their corporate rate.
In Wisconsin, as in so many places, companies with loyal workers and long lineages, like Johnson Controls—where they make thermostat parts—moved their headquarters overseas.
It just didn’t make sense to be based in America anymore.
We had lost our edge, and lost our way.
This prospect of imminent decline—it is what spurred us to take a positive agenda to the country in 2016. We called it ‘A Better Way,’ and its economic centerpiece was a plan for pro-growth tax reform.
In 2017, we began to implement this agenda, as promised.
We started with regulatory reform, to help lift the tangle of red tape that was suffocating small businesses.
To revitalize Main Street, we provided relief to community banks and credit unions.
We jumpstarted long-overdue improvements to our infrastructure—our roads, bridges, and railways.
And, for the first time in 31 years, we overhauled our tax code. To help workers, we lowered rates and nearly doubled the standard deduction, so you can keep more money in the first place. To help families, we doubled the child tax credit.
To help our businesses, we allowed full expensing to promote expansion. We brought the corporate tax rate in line with our competitors, leap-frogging many of them. And to help attract investment and level the playing field, we transitioned to a territorial tax system like the rest of the world.
As we gather here, it has been a little more than 200 days since the enactment of tax reform. Here is what we know.
After years of stagnation, our economy is finally on the rise. By just about any economic measure, the American people are better off now.
About 9 out of 10 workers are keeping more of what they make. More than 5.5 million workers have already received bonuses, raises, or better benefits, as a direct result of tax reform.
More money is coming back to our shores—more than $300 billion was repatriated in the first quarter, the most on record.
Unemployment rolls are at historically low levels. Job openings have reached record highs. Wages are up, income is up.
Confidence has come roaring back. Consumer confidence. Small business confidence. Manufacturer confidence. All at or near record highs.
We all love a good comeback story. Well, this may be the biggest one around.
Tax reform is working. It is improving people’s lives.
To be clear, it is not the singular reason for this boom. But it was vital to ensuring American preeminence in the 21st century.
Indeed, tax reform has helped dramatically improve our country’s path. Our businesses and manufacturers are competing again, expanding again. Families are spending more again. Retail sales are up. Home sales are up.
And for our workers, there has been a real sea change. Now employers are having to actually compete for workers. More people are quitting their jobs to go for better opportunities—at rates we haven’t seen in years. More than 600,000 people came off the sidelines and joined the labor force last month.
Our economy is on a roll, and the American people are better off now.
We are getting back to risk-taking, back to growth. We are getting back our edge.
But, of course, this is not the end of the story.
Yes, our economy is finally hitting its stride, but too many families are still struggling.
We need to get more people on the path of life. We need to keep our economy on the path of growth.
To do that, we have to get some important things right. We have to get at those problems which growth makes it easier to solve.
Here are just a few challenges I would like for you to think about.
The first one is workforce development. This is really the final piece of our economic agenda.
We need to recognize that the competitiveness of our economy is inextricably linked to the competitiveness of our workforce.
Go to just about any factory in the Midwest right now, and the CEO is likely to tell you something along the lines of: ‘The good news is, we have the jobs. The problem is, we’re having trouble finding workers with the right skills.’
Our education system is still not properly equipped to help people adjust to a changing economy. This is one of those areas where we can’t expect to fix 21st-century problems with 20th-century tools.
We have a growing shortage—really, an alarming shortage—of skilled workers.
Right now, there are actually more job openings in America than there are job seekers. This may be a good problem to have, but it is a problem we need to solve.
We need to close this skills gap.
This Congress has boosted resources for apprenticeships. We have boosted resources for workforce development programs in high-growth fields.
And the House has passed a great bipartisan bill to expand career and technical education.
Basically, the way I see this is: We need to make two-year school cool again. You shouldn’t have to pile up mountains of debt for college just to get the skills you need for a career.
We can and should make it much easier for students to achieve proficiency in their chosen vocation. This will smooth their entry into the workforce.
Here’s one good idea that is catching on: More companies are partnering with local schools on programs to better match students with the skills they need for in-demand jobs.
Take Gateway Tech in Southeastern Wisconsin. They are working with Foxconn to develop a special curriculum for what the company’s needs will be.
In fact, they are building a campus right at the Foxconn location, to train and equip the incoming workforce.
We should be encouraging more of these partnerships. That’s what this legislation is about.
In this economy, with all of the opportunities available, there could not be a better time to help more people move from welfare to work.
As part of this year’s Farm Bill, the House advanced initiatives to better connect food stamp recipients with meaningful jobs. If you are work-capable, and you don’t have young children, you are guaranteed help finding a job or getting the right training for a job.
It is a balance of work requirements and work supports, with a case management-based approach, going person to person. This is all about empowering the individual.
If we can get these things right—helping more students get into good jobs and careers, and helping more people get out of poverty into the workforce—those are big changes. Those are things that will help restore intergenerational mobility for families and communities.
That brings me to my second point.
If we want to make this resurgence real and lasting, we need to do a better job of reconnecting distressed communities to the greater economy.
The country as a whole went through a weak recovery, but there are areas which have still seen next to no recovery at all.
The most recent study done by the Economic Innovation Group found that more than 52 million Americans still live in economically distressed communities. That is far too many people being left behind, and feeling forgotten.
We owe it to those communities to go bold, and get right at the underlying disparities. So we are putting to work some ideas to really open up access to opportunity and jumpstart economic development.
Through tax reform, all 50 states have now designated opportunity zones in their lowest-income census tracts. States worked with local leaders to identify the areas with the biggest need. This, in and of itself, is promising, because we have taken the decision-making out of Washington.
All told, there are more than 8,000 of these zones across the country. You may remember an earlier iteration of these as enterprise zones, something I worked on for Jack Kemp at the start of my career.
With these opportunity zones, we are essentially offering private investors a set of incentives.
The longer you maintain your investment in these areas, the more tax benefits you receive. If you invest for at least a decade, you won’t pay capital gains taxes on that investment.
We want to encourage investors to sustain their commitment, and form a long-term relationship with the community.
Think about it this way. Right now, we have $6 trillion of unrealized capital that can be deployed to help alleviate poverty in distressed communities and improve people’s lives.
The potential here is just incredible.
Another idea this Congress has put into effect is social impact-bonds. This is another way to leverage private capital for the public good under a performance-based framework.
Through these bonds, state and local governments place a value on a specific outcome—it could be anything from helping the homeless to reducing recidivism.
Investors fund and evaluate these programs, and they are repaid only if the program works, only if it gets results. Both the risk and the reward is shifted to the private sector.
This will help unlock new and innovative solutions to fix some of the persistent problems plaguing low-income communities.
The third and final issue I want to talk about gets back to our overall competitiveness and growth.
Just as our standing was threatened as countries around the world made their tax codes more competitive, we similarly risk being left behind in global trade if we don’t lead here, as well.
The final Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement was flawed, to be sure, but its broader intent was correct: opening up American-made goods and services to new markets, while providing a counter to China, in a critical region, with the United States writing the rules of the road.
Now, the president has made clear that he prefers bilateral trade agreements over multinational ones like TPP. That view is reasonable, so long as reaching those direct pacts remains a priority.
Since America dropped out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the other TPP nations have moved forward with that agreement.
Any day now, the European Union will sign a new trade agreement with Japan. The EU also recently initiated negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.
The world is moving ahead. So we must continue to pursue new agreements while we strengthen our existing ones.
Otherwise, we risk having American products locked out of new markets, jobs moved overseas, and a decline in American influence.
This matters. As our generals will tell you, these agreements are just as important for our national security as they are for our economy.
This administration has been vocal about trade abuses taking place. It is right to be. There are unquestionably bad actors, most notably China. But I’ve made my view clear: New tariffs are not the solution.
For me, all of this is secondary to a bigger, more fundamental question about the future of the economy and our standing in it.
Today, emerging economies and old allies alike are making a choice.
As we settle into the 21st century, will they follow what I would call the Chinese model, with centralized power, state-owned enterprises, cronyism, even outright theft?
Or will they choose a system based on markets, the rule of law, transparency, and the kind of potential only human capital can produce?
I believe most of these counties want the latter, but they need to know that the United States will be there to partner with them.
The rule book for the global economy in the 21st century is being written now.
The question is whether the United States will be holding the pen, or will we cede that authority to illiberal, undemocratic regimes.
We must be there, to set the tone and set the pace.
More so, we must continue to demonstrate that our way of doing things still has juice. That we can still do the most good for the most people.
This is another reason why tax reform was so important.
It is why, on the day I became Speaker, I said that I did not believe all that talk about America being done, about our best days being behind us.
Remember how, not too long ago, we were being told to just get used to stagnation, get used to the new normal.
Well, that narrative’s sell-by date has now come and gone.
We have shown what we can achieve when we reapply our founding principles, when we renew our aspirational spirit.
We have retold the story of the American Idea.
Let us continue with this work.
Let us continue on the path of growth and opportunity.
Thank you all for having me.
After years of struggling to get ahead, the American people are seeing jobs, opportunity, and confidence come roaring back.
Two years ago, House Republicans laid out a bold policy agenda called A Better Way to tackle some of the biggest challenges of the day.
Republicans are delivering on our promises. As a result, America is stronger at home and abroad, with a booming economy, safer communities, and a revived military.
After historic tax reform, unemployment is at historic lows, job openings are at record highs, paychecks are growing, and wages are rising, right along with economic optimism.
We have made significant investments to combat the opioid crisis, end human trafficking, target dangerous criminals, and make schools safer.
We have launched a historic rebuilding of our military, raised pay for our troops, and reformed the VA to provide better care to our veterans.
More work remains, but this economy is soaring, and Republican policies are helping to improve people’s lives and making it easier for families to get ahead, with a renewed sense of confidence for the future.
The American people are better off now.
WASHINGTON—On Thursday, July 19, AEI will host a conversation between House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and AEI Asness Chair in Applied Liberty Jonah Goldberg. They will discuss the importance of maintaining constitutional principles and mediating institutions in an age of tribalism and identity politics.
Constitutional government in an age of tribalism and identity politics: A conversation with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Jonah Goldberg
Thursday, July 19 at 11:15 a.m. ET
AEI Auditorium, Washington, D.C.
MEDIA: This event is open press, but space is very limited. All media who wish to attend must RSVP to MediaServices@aei.org, 202-862-5829, by COB on Tuesday, July 17. Media should expect to receive additional logistical information the week of the event.
WATCH LIVE: Tune in for Speaker Ryan and Jonah Goldberg’s conversation on speaker.gov/live.
Summary: Today, Republican leaders talked about how the American people are Better Off Now because of the House Republican agenda that has ushered in an economic resurgence and strengthened communities. While there is more work to be done, Speaker Ryan shared how policies passed during this speakership have put the country back on the path to a future full of promise.
Speaker Ryan’s Opening Statement:
“This is a really, really good story to tell. It’s about hard work and the resilience of the American people.
“In 2016, we offered the American people a positive agenda. We offered, in 2016, the American people A Better Way.
“We said, here is what we need to do to get the country back on track.
“And we have delivered on these promises. And the American people are better off now. The country is on a better path now.
“At home, tax reform has opened the door for an economic resurgence that we are now witnessing.
“Unemployment is at historic lows. Just yesterday, we saw that new hires hit the highest level in 17 years.
“Wages are growing. Workers are seeing more money in their paychecks. All of this fuels more confidence and it fuels more economic growth.
“We’re encouraging people to come off the sidelines and join the workforce.
“We are making communities safer and stronger as well.
“We have put unprecedented resources toward fighting the opioid epidemic from all sides.
“We have worked to end human trafficking. We have worked to end—the target of human trafficking because this is modern slavery in the 21st century.
“We are targeting dangerous criminals, we’re making schools safer.
“And, after years of being hollowed out, our military is finally getting the resources that it needs to rebuild itself.
“This also means recognizing the sacrifice of service: from giving our troops the biggest pay raise they’ve received in over nine years, to giving our veterans better care through the much-needed VA reforms that are now the law of the land.
“More work remains, and we will continue to work on our agenda, to help get people on a better path, on the path of their lives, so that they can reach their destinies.
“The American people are better off now. And we have a good reason to be optimistic that better days are ahead.
“So I’m pleased to be able to say, just go to better.gop and learn more.
“You’ve heard us talk about this website before—it was when we were proposing these ideas. Now that these ideas are the law of the land, we are seeing the results of these ideas.
“The country is better off, people are better off. Go to better.gop.”
WASHINGTON—Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the following statement on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court:
“Those who sit on the Supreme Court play a vital role in our democracy: They interpret the law and act as the final arbiter of the U.S. Constitution—even against the other branches of government. Adherence to the text of laws and the words of the Constitution serves as the check on this extraordinary power. President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh shows his commitment to selecting judges who are themselves committed to this restraint. Judge Kavanaugh will bring extensive experience to the Supreme Court; his long career exemplifies public service and, in particular, dedication to religious liberty. He has shown that Constitutional principles are the ultimate guide for his opinions. I look forward to Judge Kavanaugh’s swift confirmation in the Senate. This is an excellent choice.”
The Fourth of July is about the very Idea of America.
We forget this sometimes. America wasn’t founded on a government, or a political system. All of that came much later.
It began with this beautiful idea, that our rights come from God. It began with this idea of a society based on these natural rights, on liberty, freedom, free enterprise, self-determination.
It is our duty to preserve this idea—this Great Experiment—and just as important, to preserve the spirit in which it was conceived.
That sacred pledge made on this day, they made it to each other. Everything depended on that. Everything after—every success, every sacrifice—came from that common cause.
Tocqueville thought this was the genius of our country. “Americans of all ages, all conditions, all minds constantly unite,” he wrote.
Every day, we unite in some small way. We forget this too.
We give back in our communities, we look for ways to solve problems, we look out for neighbors in need. Those things—civility and civil society—they are what connect us to one another. And by doing our part—whatever it may be—we keep this great experiment going.
So, celebrate America today. Fire up the grill. Light up the sky.
And conjure up the Spirit of ’76, too. It is an awesome, awesome thing.
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today named additional members to the House-Senate conference committee for the National Defense Authorization Act. Last week, Speaker Ryan named the Armed Services Committee members who will serve on the panel.
“The defense bill is always critical, but even more so now as we work to rebuild our nation's military,” Speaker Ryan said. “These lawmakers will help ensure that we keep the promises we have made to the men and women of our armed forces."
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
House Budget Committee
House Education and the Workforce Committee
House Energy and Commerce Committee
House Financial Services Committee
House Foreign Affairs Committee
House Homeland Security Committee
House Judiciary Committee
House Natural Resources Committee
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
House Science, Space, and Technology Committee
House Small Business Committee
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
House Veterans’ Affairs Committee
House Ways and Means Committee
Working in Congress, it’s easy to get caught up in the noise—the headlines, the Facebook comments, the tweets. But what's often overlooked are all of the stories—both uplifting and heartbreaking—that we witness: the mother who gives her time helping others after both of her sons battled an opioid addiction; the factory worker who is able to send his child to summer camp thanks to his tax reform bonus; the leader who returns to his position on the House floor and the baseball diamond.
Every person has a story to share, and we are humbled to be able to hear them every day. Here are eight noteworthy stories we witnessed during the month of June:
1. Whip Scalise – For Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), this year’s Congressional Baseball Game was especially meaningful. One year after being shot at baseball practice, Whip Scalise started the game at second base. Prior to the start, Speaker Ryan celebrates the Whip’s return.
2. American Manufacturers – American manufacturers are already seeing the benefits of tax reform—and it’s only been six months. Jamison Door in Hagerstown, Maryland has given its workers bonuses and initiated plans for expansion. At an event marking the six-month anniversary of the House’s passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Speaker Ryan highlights their story, as well as those of other local manufacturers.
3. Our Office Interns – For many college students, internships are an opportunity to get a glimpse into a possible career path. The same goes for our office interns. Speaker Ryan sits down with his first group of summer interns to hear about their experiences working in the office and learn more about their career goals.
4. Rep. Sam Johnson – A former Prisoner of War and dedicated public servant, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) is a hero to many in these halls and around the country. Speaker Ryan formally accepts the portrait of Rep. Johnson, from his time as Interim Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, into the House’s Portrait Collection.
5. Firefighters – Firefighters put their lives on the line each and every day. Smoke inhalation and other hazards encountered on the job take a toll on the health of these first responders. Speaker Ryan signs Rep. Chris Collins’ (R-NY) bill to aid researchers in the study of these hazards, sending it to the White House to become law.
6. Lives Affected by Opioids – From a former high school athlete who was prescribed opioids following a simple sport injury to a single parent whose addiction escalated to heroin use, the opioid epidemic is taking the lives of 115 Americans each day. Speaker Ryan and House Republicans hold a press conference highlighting the faces of this epidemic, and what Congress is doing to fight it.
7. Red Hawks – Miami University students participating in the school’s Inside Washington program spend the semester test-driving various careers and participating in discussions with alumni in the DC area. A Red Hawk himself, Speaker Ryan meets with the summer session students for a discussion on current events.
8. Southeastern Wisconsin Community – The Badger State is a great place to do business. Foxconn’s new facility in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin will help bring jobs and opportunities to local families. Speaker Ryan joins President Trump, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Foxconn Founder and CEO Terry Gou, and Christopher Murdock (the first Wisconsin Foxconn employee) for the facility’s groundbreaking ceremony.
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
Filing taxes just got a little less taxing. The Treasury Department today unveiled the new return for 2019—a form the size of a postcard, as promised.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed six months ago nearly doubled the standard deduction, meaning fewer Americans will need to itemize. The new return consolidates the personal information section of the form on the front, and includes the lines used most frequently by Americans all on the back so that the lion’s share of taxpayers won’t need anything beyond this form.
For those who do need to itemize, any additional sheets are topic-specific so taxpayers can easily choose the one they need.
And for those not filling out the form by hand, don’t worry: This new system streamlines online filing as well. We set out to make this system less complicated across the board.
From start to finish, tax reform was all about creating a less burdensome code that worked for American taxpayers. In the six months since tax reform was enacted, workers have been able to keep more of their hard-earned paychecks. That’s a meaningful difference for working families who needed a boost to get ahead.
It’s about unlocking economic opportunity—which is why it lowered rates and doubled the child tax credit, among other things—but it’s also about returning to simplicity. We could all use a little more of that.
Just over 180 days. Six short months. That’s how long it has been since the biggest overhaul of our tax code in a generation was signed by the president—and the time it took for the new tax code to revitalize the economy and put working families on the path to prosperity.
Tax reform has unlocked a wave of economic momentum. In the six months since, wages have grown, confidence has skyrocketed, jobs have been created, unemployment has declined.
These six figures show this momentum is not slowing down:
With these kind of results, there’s no telling what good news the next six months will bring.
Today, the House will vote on one of the most important defense funding bills in recent memory. The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, which passed out of committee with an overwhelming bipartisan vote, raises overall military funding to $674.6 billion. With this bill, the House is keeping our promise to build a 21st century military worthy of the sacrifices made by the men and women who serve.
Here are eight reasons this bill is so important:
It provides the biggest pay raise for our service members in nine years. This defense bill takes care of our men and women in uniform—both the more than 1.3 million active-duty troops and the more than 817,000 Guard and Reserve members. It gives service members a 2.6 percent pay raise—the largest in nine years.
It takes care of our service members and their families. The bill provides $34.4 billion in funding for the Defense Health Program so that troops, military families, and retirees can receive the care they need. This includes funding for cancer research, psychological health research, and sexual assault prevention and response.
It addresses our military readiness crisis. Over five years, aviation accidents cost us 133 American lives, part of a significant and deadly readiness crisis throughout the military. To reverse this grave trend, this bill makes investments—nearly $246 billion—in training, maintenance, and other military readiness programs. We’re taking steps to make sure more lives aren’t lost because of outdated, subpar equipment. It started with last year’s funding bill, and this year’s bill continues that commitment.
It upgrades our military equipment. This bill spends more than $145 billion to upgrade and secure military equipment across all branches of the military—including helping replenish the Naval fleet and procure new vehicles, aircraft, and helicopters.
It supports counterterrorism efforts. We still face very real and serious global threats, and we need to ensure our military can continue current operations against these terrorist organizations. This bill puts $68.1 billion specifically toward those efforts, including funding for personnel, facilities, and equipment. It also provides support for our allies in these critical fights.
It modernizes our military for the 21st century. Warfare, and the global landscape, is always changing. This bill will help our military stay at the cutting edge of technology and weaponry by allocating more than $92 billion for research, development, and evaluation of new defense systems.
It ensures taxpayer money is spent responsibly. By streamlining needless spending, this bill responsibly uses taxpayer money and ensures our troops are supported by an agile, efficient Pentagon.
It continues Congress’ efforts to rebuild our military. Congress has made fortifying our military a top priority. After years of being hollowed out, the military has finally started to receive the resources it needs to rebuild. Beginning with last year’s defense spending bill, and then continuing with this year’s budget agreement and spending bills, Congress has remained committed to shoring up our defense.
As Speaker Ryan said earlier this week, “We want the men and women who wear our uniform to always, always have what they need to fulfill their missions, and to take care of their families. So we are keeping promises that we have made.”
WASHINGTON—On Thursday, July 12, The Economic Club of Washington, D.C. will host House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) for an address on the economy and why America is #BetterOffNow. He will discuss how policies enacted this Congress have helped revitalize the nation’s economy and forever altered the economic trajectory of the country, and he will look ahead to remaining obstacles to productivity and prosperity in America. Following his remarks, Economic Club President David Rubenstein will moderate a conversation with Speaker Ryan on the subject.
#BetterOffNow: Remarks by Speaker Ryan on Our Revitalized Economy, followed by a conversation with The Economic Club of Washington, D.C. President David Rubenstein
Thursday, July 12 at 8:30 a.m. ET
Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C.
MEDIA: This event is open press. All media who wish to attend must RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Media should expect to receive additional logistical information the week of the event.
WATCH LIVE: Tune in for Speaker Ryan’s remarks and conversation with David Rubenstein on speaker.gov/live.
LEARN MORE about how Americans are #BetterOffNow on better.gop.
WASHINGTON—Today, the House moved forward on a funding package for Veterans Affairs and infrastructure priorities, voting to initiate a conference committee with the Senate to produce a final measure.
This legislation, H.R. 5895, provides funding for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water, and the Legislative Branch. The House passed its version of the measure earlier this month, and the Senate followed suit earlier this week.
“This funding package will help deliver better care and better services for our veterans and military families,” Speaker Ryan said. “It will help grow our economy with critical investments in our water and power infrastructure. We address these priorities at responsible funding levels, fulfilling one of our most important obligations to the taxpayer. We look forward to getting this done for the American people.”
On Wednesday, Speaker Ryan met with Appropriations Committee lawmakers he has named to the conference committee. The full list includes:
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today named Republican lawmakers from the House Armed Services Committee to the House-Senate conference committee for the National Defense Authorization Act. In March, the House passed its version of the national defense bill, and the Senate followed suit last week.
“After years of our armed forces being hollowed out, we are on the road to rebuilding America’s military,” Speaker Ryan said. “This defense bill is about keeping the fundamental promises we have made to our service members and their families. These lawmakers devote so much of their time and energy to working with our military, and I look forward to the final legislation that they produce.”
House Armed Services Committee
1. Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX)
2. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC)
3. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
4. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT)
5. Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH)
6. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL)
7. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA)
8. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX)
9. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
10. Rep. Robert Wittman (R-VA)
11. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)
12. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
13. Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA)
14. Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA)
15. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL)
16. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY)
17. Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE)
18. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN)
Additionally, Speaker Ryan has appointed lawmakers from outside committees to take part in House-Senate negotiations on the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, which addresses reforms to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
Energy and Commerce Committee
1. Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH)
2. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH)
Foreign Affairs Committee
1. Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA)
2. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)
Financial Services Committee
1. Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
2. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)
Additional lawmakers from outside committees will be named to the NDAA conference committee next month.
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today issued the following statement after Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced his retirement:
“In his decades of faithful service on the bench, Justice Kennedy has always been a man of integrity and decency. He has earned the respect of the House and the American people. I look forward to the president nominating an eminently qualified successor who will be dedicated to upholding the Constitution.”
WASHINGTON—Testifying today before the Joint Select Committee on Budget & Appropriations Process Reform, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) urged lawmakers to advance reforms that will enhance oversight and accountability over the way taxpayer dollars are spent. This bipartisan, House-Senate panel, established by the Bipartisan Budget Act, is required to hold public hearings, and vote on its findings and legislative recommendations no later than November 30, 2018.
Following is Speaker Ryan's prepared testimony, which was submitted into the record:
Thank you, Co-Chair Womack and Co-Chair Lowey. I very much appreciate the opportunity to address this committee.
In some way, it brings me back to my own days chairing budget reform hearings.
Of course, this panel has a much bigger, and more urgent, task. As things stand, we are simply falling well short. We continue to fail the taxpayer, but worse, we continue to set ourselves up to fail.
It is clearly time for a new approach.
I testify today as someone who has been on both ends of this process. As Budget Chairman, I recognized, and often lamented, that the budget process was broken. Not until I became Speaker did I realize just how broken the process truly was.
Whenever there is a new Speaker, there are hopes for a better process. Members clamor for more influence and more input. Given my committee background, I have certainly shared, and worked to implement, this imperative. On any number of legislative priorities, from tax reform to the farm bill to the highway bill, committees take the lead on major legislation, and see it through.
The budget and appropriations process begins with the same good intentions, if not the best foundation. The timeline is always tight, even under the best of circumstances, leaving little to no room for detours.
Invariably, the process seizes up, and not long after, falls apart. As the clock ticks down, the final decisions are kicked up to leadership, which kicks back a final measure that members find unsatisfactory.
Even ‘organized chaos’ would be too generous a description of all of this.
To me, all these omnibuses and continuing resolutions are little more than local anesthetics. The pain goes away, but the problem does not. It just feeds on itself, fueling pessimism on all sides. Members become less engaged, and the public becomes more disenchanted.
With each stumble, we are handing over more spending decisions to the executive branch. We are squandering our oversight duties as an institution. We are abdicating one of our most fundamental constitutional responsibilities: the power of the purse.
As an unapologetic optimist, I believe we can solve any tough problem, even this one. The reforms we need are bold, but they are right in front of us. We have been debating them for years, decades even.
We may not be able to change the deadlines, but we can change the calendar. Look at what we are doing right now, trying to get an entire appropriations process done in a span of--what--four months?
Biennial budgeting offers a path to rewriting the process, not just reforming it. It makes budgeting an ongoing process instead of all these demoralizing fits and starts. It brings renewed transparency and accountability, setting us up to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars.
These proposals have taken a number of forms over the years. In multiple Congresses, I introduced the Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act.
One recent proposal, offered by Chairman Enzi, calls for a budget resolution that covers both years, with half of the appropriations measures considered in the first session, and half in the second session. I strongly support this idea.
If properly implemented, this will empower members to do a deeper dive on the most troublesome issues and enhance their ability to oversee the executive branch. It will reinvigorate member participation in the budget and appropriations process.
It will enhance the importance of reconciliation, which is absolutely critical to addressing mandatory spending and the major drivers of our debt.
We know from recent history--from the budget accord Sen. Patty Murray and I reached in 2013 to the one Congress enacted earlier this year--that two years is about the timespan for congressional agreements on discretionary spending. So let’s make this our standard practice.
Now I know that, no matter how good the idea is, there are always real obstacles to implementing reforms. But there is no substitute for political will in solving our structural budget problems. This panel was given a mandate to produce recommendations, and it is comprised of leaders from the committees of jurisdiction.
I would also note that it is extraordinary—quite possibly unprecedented—to have both the Speaker and the Minority Leader testify before the same committee on the same day. This should serve as a signal of how seriously we take your work.
Consider the stakes here. Last fall, the House passed all 12 appropriations bills on time—the first time we had done that since 2009. But the last time both the House and the Senate passed all 12 bills on time was in 1994. Only 12 percent of the current members were here for that. I was a think-tank staffer at the time.
A generation of the people’s representatives have become accustomed to, if not acclimated to, a failed budget process.
This has to change, and soon. That is why I urge this committee to reach a bipartisan consensus, and submit recommendations to the full Congress.
Do not underestimate your ability to move this dialogue forward. Do not underestimate your capacity to lay the groundwork for long-term reforms. Do not squander this opportunity to advance one of the single biggest things we can do for the American taxpayer.
I stand ready to assist this panel in any way I can.
Thank you for taking on this task.
Summary: Today, Speaker Ryan spoke about the defense funding bill the House will consider this week, which gives our service members their largest pay raise in nine years, provides for training and equipment, and gives our military the resources needed to confront new challenges.
“As you also know, we just hit the six-month milestone after tax reform—and I’m sure that’s mostly what you’re reporting on these days.
“I just want to say just how far we’ve come in a brief period of time.
“Wages are rising, unemployment remains low, people are feeling confident again.
“It is just what the majority leader said: The kind of economic turnaround that we have seen since tax reform exceeded our expectations, and we’ve been working on this issue for decades.
“After tax reform, our top priority was to rebuild our military.
“One of the chief architects of rebuilding our military is Chairwoman Kay Granger.
“We needed to address a very serious readiness crisis in this country that was costing us American lives.
“We were able to secure the biggest funding increase in defense spending in 15 years.
“With this defense funding bill, we are putting these promises into action. We are starting a new era for our military.
“This bill invests in training. It invests in equipment.
“It provides funding for modern systems so that our military is best equipped for the challenges we face in 21st-century warfare. New challenges—tough challenges.
“This is about ensuring that our Armed Forces, after years of being hollowed out, can operate on the cutting edge, with agility and efficiency.
“And this defense bill gives our service members their biggest pay raise in nine years.
“What our troops do is nothing short of remarkable. They have our greatest admiration. And this raise is well-deserved.
“We want the men and women who wear our uniform to always, always have what they need to fulfill their missions, and to take care of their families.
“So we are keeping promises that we have made.
“We are doing in office what we said we would do in the campaign in 2016.
“Through our policies, whether it’s bolstering our economy or strengthening our defense, we are reinforcing America’s leadership in the world.”
It’s been just six months under the new tax law, and already, we’ve seen millions of Americans receive bonuses, workers’ wages increase, one million jobs created, utility rates lowered in 48 states, record levels of unemployment—the list goes on.
In the months leading up to Congress considering tax reform, Speaker Ryan toured businesses around the country to talk about the benefits that would follow should historic reform of our country’s tax code be achieved. That hustle did not stop once Congress passed, and the president signed into law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These past six months, the speaker has visited dozens of businesses, to hear directly from company leaders and employees about how tax reform has helped improve their lives and businesses.
Here are six of the stops from Speaker Ryan’s tax reform tour:
1. Dallas, TX – Southwest Airlines is one of the hundreds of U.S. companies that has provided its employees with bonuses thanks to tax reform. In April, joined by House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, Speaker Ryan heard from employees about how they’ve used their $1,000 bonus checks.
2. Delavan, WI – Vision Plastics, a family-owned, custom injection molding business, has already been able to purchase new equipment because of tax reform. While visiting their factory in April, co-owners Craig and Jamie Hubertz showed Speaker Ryan some of their products.
3. Atlanta, GA – Following tax reform, Home Depot joined hundreds of companies in delivering much-deserved bonuses to many hourly-wage associates. In March, Speaker Ryan visited the company’s Store Support Center to speak with employees about the benefits of the new tax law.
4. Janesville, WI – Wisconsin is first in the nation for manufacturing jobs added in 2018. While touring AMTEC in April, Speaker Ryan met with workers who showed him how they manufacture state-of-the-art equipment for our military.
5. Elkhorn, WI – Palmer Hamilton is another Wisconsin First District business that is seeing the benefits of tax reform after only six months. Speaker Ryan spoke to company leaders about the updated tax code and learned about Palmer Hamilton’s furniture manufacturing process while touring their facility in April.
6. North Prairie, WI – While visiting Zero Zone, a refrigeration manufacturing company, in January, Speaker Ryan spoke with company workers and leadership about how they would benefit from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which became the law of the land only a few weeks prior.
WASHINGTON—Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke on the floor in support of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which brings a comprehensive approach to preventing and treating opioid addiction and stopping the opioid epidemic. His remarks are below:
“Now, Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my wholehearted support for this effort, for H.R. 6.
“Our nation is fighting a grave opioid epidemic. It is a threat to a generation of young people, the very fabric that holds our communities together.
“But, to me, this legislation—this legislation is about hope.
“I’ve got the honor of speaking with and knowing three brave Wisconsin families who have dealt with this. Families that I’ve gotten to know over the course of time.
“Kyle Pucek. Kyle is a guy I know from Janesville. He had an ankle injury, treated with opioid medication, just like a lot of people have. He developed a dependency, and then he eventually turned to heroin.
“He is now clean, and he works with nonprofits in Janesville to encourage others to seek treatment.
“He is helping making sure that people don’t make the mistakes he made. And he’s making a huge difference.
“Michelle Jaskulski. Michelle has two sons, former high school athletes who became addicted to heroin. And they are in recovery.
“She understands the loneliness that comes with being a mother in this situation. She understands how isolating it can all feel. And now, she advocates for more resources to fight this epidemic, and she supports other families so that they don’t feel like they’re facing this fight alone like she did.
“Jason Simcakoski. Jason Simcakoski was a Marine who served our country.
“He went to the VA hospital looking for help for his anxiety. He was overprescribed opioids, and he lost his life. His family has made it their mission to ensure that others do not experience the same fate.
“This is the heart of America. After suffering such pain—these families suffered unspeakable pain—but they overcame.
“And now, they’re making it their mission in life to make sure others have a place to turn to. That others don’t have to go down the path that they went.
“Because asking for help—that is not a sign of weakness. It is actually a sign and an act of strength.
“We all have a role to play in this. And it begins with reaching out, it begins with listening, with being there for one another.
“All of our institutions, at every level, should emulate and encourage this kind of fellowship.
“We should make sure and make it clear that no one is alone, that every life matters.
“Well, this bill is titled with the perfect title: the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.
“It’s bipartisan. It’s high time we do it. It is a very, very strong and good step in the right direction.
“It will advance treatment and recovery. It will improve prevention. It will give resources to communities. And it will fight deadly drugs like fentanyl.
“So I want to thank Chairman Walden and I want to thank Chairman Brady, and I want to thank Mr. Pallone and Mr. Neal. I want to thank all the members, all the members of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Ways and Means Committee.
“Let’s not stop here.
“Let’s not stop until we have [instilled] a sense of hope in all of those who may be struggling.
“Let’s not stop until we have ended this epidemic.
“I urge the entire House to vote yes, and I yield back.”
WASHINGTON--Today on the floor of the House of Representatives, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) paid tribute to the life and works of Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist Dr. Charles Krauthammer:
“I want to pause for a moment to honor the life of Dr. Charles Krauthammer.
“Dr. Krauthammer was a widely respected conservative thinker. He wrote columns for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. Charles was paralyzed since college, he wrote the most vigorous commentary of our age.
“He was a Harvard-educated psychiatrist, he had the perfect training to analyze our politics. He passed away yesterday. He left a family that loved him. He left colleagues that admired him. And he left grateful friends and readers like myself.
“If I had to think about this…Charles was a good friend of mine. He had a beautiful mind, and he had a wonderful, wonderful way about him.
“Simply put, I loved the man. I loved his work. I would marvel over not just what he said, but how he said it. He had this unique ability to take the issue of the moment and place it perfectly in the context of just bigger things.
“‘America is the only country ever founded on an idea,’ he would say, and his vocation was the defense of that idea.
“As great as his intellect was, there was just absolutely no arrogance about him. He was good company. He was gracious, he was curious. Take any topic, and he had already thought through his argument, your argument, and all of the counterarguments before you had even started to think. He was always willing to join the fight, but with good cheer. And he reveled in it. He excelled in it.
“Charles used his immeasurable gifts to contribute to our civic discourse, and he did it civilly, and we are all the better for it. We will be wiser for what he has done for us. And I can only pray that we can emulate his spirit, his sense of wonder, and his sense of civility.
“The House, and this nation, are in his debt. Our prayers are with his family.”
Summary: At his weekly press conference, Speaker Ryan provided an update on the situation at the border and the immigration bills the House will vote on today. He also spoke about how the growing economy is creating new opportunities and openings for workers, and why now is the right time to pass a farm bill that includes workforce development reforms.
“Today, the House will take action on legislation to address border security and our broken immigration system.
“It is consistent with the president’s four pillars for immigration reform.
“With regards to the situation at the border, I was pleased that the president took action yesterday to ensure families can remain together while we enforce our immigration laws.
“As I said previously, we do not want children taken away from their parents.”
The Strong Economy
“On the economy: Unemployment claims have now dropped four weeks running.
“America’s job market is only getting stronger. More people are being drawn off of the sidelines.
“We heard yesterday from some manufacturers what tax reform has meant for them and their coworkers.
“In essence: Tax reform has been an absolute game changer for people in this economy.
“These companies now have the confidence to make the investments and to take the risks that lead to growth.
“For workers, this has already been translating into higher pay and more paths for advancement.
“It means more American-made goods on shelves here and around the world.
“This economic resurgence—it happened just six months ago.
“In fact, the job market is so strong now that the number of job openings now exceeds the number of people looking for jobs in America.
“Think about that: There are more job openings in this country than there are people looking for work."
“So today, we are going to be voting on a farm bill that will help close the skills gap, and get more people into the workforce and onto the ladder of opportunity.
“This is a perfect time to pull people out of poverty, into the workforce, onto the ladder of opportunity.
“We see this as a great moment to get the folks who have been marginalized in this society, who have been on the sidelines, on to a life of self-sufficiency, to advancement.
“This is good for America’s workers, and it is going to help more families take part in this economic resurgence.”
For the last eight years of what I would call "Obamanomics," they overregulated the economy. They kept taxes too high, and they were stopping economic growth from taking off. And I just knew that if we actually did the things that we know grow the economy—regulatory relief and comprehensive tax reform—we would bring in a burst of new confidence for people to take risks and for big and small businesses alike to expand.
That is exactly what has happened. Just six months ago, we finally got the window of opportunity where the time was right. We had the executive branch and the legislative branch working together to get this done, and we seized the moment.
The United States is now in a pro-growth cycle where Americans are confident, they're risk-taking, they're hiring, and wages are going up. This economic optimism won't solve all of our problems, but it makes all of our problems easier to solve.
Washington—Today, following the passage of H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued this statement:
“The American Idea is so distinct: The condition of your birth should not determine the outcome of your life. With the passage of this bill, we’re moving toward a poverty-fighting system where this kind of upper mobility is attainable for more Americans. This is a big deal.
“This bill includes critical reforms to nutrition benefits that close the skills gap, better equip our workforce, and encourage people to move from welfare to work, so more Americans have the opportunity to tap into the economic prosperity we’re seeing right now. These reforms will return agency to people rather than keeping it in government, empowering individuals to reach their full potential and make the most of their lives. The bill also provides stability for our farmers and supports development in our rural communities. I want to thank Chairman Conaway and the House Agriculture Committee for putting together such a bold, transformative bill that will help people to move out of poverty and into lives of opportunity.”
WASHINGTON—Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin marked the sixth-month anniversary of the final passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—the first major overhaul of America’s tax code in 31 years—alongside manufacturing representatives in the U.S. Capitol. A new survey released by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) shows that tax reform has led to record optimism among the nation's manufacturers.
Following are Speaker Ryan’s remarks at the event, as prepared for delivery:
It was six months ago today that Congress passed the first tax reform in a generation.
And what a six months it has been:
-More than one million new jobs have been created.
-Unemployment is at its lowest level in half a century.
-Wages are picking up.
-Today, there is record optimism among our nation’s manufacturers.
Tax reform is the game-changer our economy needed.
It is the game-changer America’s workers needed.
Last fall, Jay [Timmons] and I visited a small manufacturer on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Dixon Valve has been around for more than 100 years. They make hose fittings there.
Their story sounded all-too familiar. It was about how all the taxes and regulations had taken their toll, and there was just so much uncertainty about the future.
And who could blame them? America had the worst tax code in the industrialized world.
But now things are getting better. In just six months, tax reform has already improved so many people’s lives.
This spring, like hundreds of companies across this country, Dixon Valve announced that it would give out bonuses to all of its employees as a direct result of tax reform.
In a letter to his workers, the company’s CEO wrote that tax reform “is helping companies like Dixon reinvest in the future.”
Tax reform is working, not just by improving people’s lives, but by improving their prospects too.
It is replacing that cloud of uncertainty with a renewed sense of optimism.
This just shows you that, when you promote growth and expand opportunity, it opens up more possibilities for people to truly flourish and prosper.
Now, a lot of people thought this day would never come.
There were the skeptics who thought we wouldn’t get tax reform done, certainly not in 2017.
And then there were the cynics who thought it would lead to the end of the world.
This is not an overstatement. There were predictions of actual apocalyptical doom.
But we had a president and a Treasury Secretary who were all-in.
And we had a Ways and Means chairman who was certainly all-in. So let me turn it over to the architect of all of this, Chairman Kevin Brady.
Summary: At the weekly Republican Leadership Press Conference, Speaker Ryan spoke about the country’s economic momentum in the six months since the passage and enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
“Second, I want to provide an update on the steps that we’ve taken to grow our economy for working families.
“Six months ago this week—six months ago this week—historic tax reform was passed and signed into law.
“In just this short time, we have started to see real results. Tax reform has already helped improve the lives of so many Americans, which is exactly what we set out to do when we passed this in the first place.
“Since it took effect, 1 million jobs have already been created. Unemployment is at its lowest level in a half-century.
“Wages are rising. Utility bills are going down.
“Tax reform has been every bit the game changer that we were hoping, that we envisioned it would be.
“It has helped replace uncertainty with growing optimism. People are feeling more confident and in more control of their futures.
“And that is what this is all about. Not just these six months, but six months after that, and six years after that.
“It is about creating an economy where it is possible for families living paycheck-to-paycheck to finally get ahead.
“It is about getting people on the ladder of opportunity and truly maximizing their potential.
“Tax reform was a big start. It certainly was one of the biggest starts we could have had. But it doesn’t mean we are done.
“We are going to continue working to strengthen the economy even more, so that working families can prosper.”
Summary: Speaker Ryan spoke about the situation at the border, saying the House will consider legislation tomorrow to keep families together during their legal proceedings.
“First, I want to say a few words about the situation at the border. As I said last week, we do not want children taken away from their parents. We can enforce our immigration laws without breaking families apart. The administration says it wants Congress to act, and we are.
“Tomorrow, the House will vote on legislation to keep families together. Under this bill, when people are being prosecuted for illegally crossing the border, families will remain together, under DHS custody, throughout the length of their legal proceedings. Additional funding is also going to be made available so that DHS has sufficient resources to house and care for families during this entire process. This is obviously something we discussed last night with the president at our conference, and I hope that we will be able to pass this tomorrow.
“Bottom line is this: We are going to take action to keep families together while we enforce our immigration laws.”
This week, the House continues its bipartisan work to address the opioid epidemic. By the end of this week, we will have considered more than 50 pieces of legislation to support prevention, aid recovery, and protect our communities.
Chances are, you or someone you know has been affected by the opioid epidemic—whether that means wrestling with addiction, supporting a loved one in recovery, or providing comfort to a friend or neighbor dealing with loss.
This epidemic is extremely personal. Last week, Speaker Ryan shared the stories of Kyle Pucek, who is now in recovery following a heroin addiction, and Michelle Jaskulski, a mother whose sons also overcame addictions. Both of them now do outreach to others who may be struggling and advocate for more resources to help prevent and treat addiction.
The stories are staggering, as are the statistics:
One place we see this is in how it has affected communities and public services:
So that’s where these bills will come in—equipping communities with the resources they need to handle this on the ground.
Here’s another way to look at the scope of this epidemic: how it’s making it harder for people to keep a job. One expert found that the jump in opioid prescriptions “could account for about 20 percent of the observed decline in men’s labor force participation during that same period, and 25 percent of the observed decline in women’s labor force participation.”
An initiative the House passed last week will help people stay clean and gain independence by providing for transitional housing, specifically for those in recovery from opioid addiction. This is one of example of how we can support people on their journey back into lives of opportunity.
While this effort is a substantial one, the House will not relent. We will continue to confront this epidemic and work to bring hope to many American families sharing this struggle.
Jokes so bad, they're good, featuring Speaker Paul Ryan (father of three) and Rep. Patrick McHenry (father of two).
WASHINGTON—Following the release of the Department of Justice Inspector General report, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued this statement:
"The American people expect their most powerful law enforcement agency to act with professionalism and in accordance with established policies designed to guard against its power being used based on political assumptions or bias. The Inspector General report documents how time and again particular senior FBI officials, starting with Former Director Comey, made ad hoc, poorly reasoned decisions that were premised in part on an expectation that Secretary Clinton would win the election.
“I agree with the Inspector General’s conclusion that agents’ use of FBI systems and equipment to mix work decisions with blatant political bias injured the 'heart of the FBI’s reputation for neutral fact-finding and political independence.' I know that the FBI is home to many dedicated public servants, and Director Wray now has an enormous responsibility to earn back the public’s trust in this institution. One way to win back that trust is to fully cooperate with congressional oversight examining the use of authority and resources provided to the FBI by Congress."
Summary: At his weekly press conference, Speaker Ryan underscored the urgency of the opioid epidemic and discussed why the bills the House is considering now are so important.
“Take a look at this. This opioid crisis—this is an epidemic in the true sense of the word.
“I want to paint a picture of just the urgency we are facing in this country.
“This chart shows you that the national death rate—the national death rate—13.3 opioid overdoses for every 100,000 Americans.
“As you can see, there has been a huge spike. This goes from 1999 to 2016. We had a 28 percent spike in the opioid death rate from 2015 to 2016. Twenty-eight percent increase in deaths, in the death rate of opioids, in one year in this country.
“This is an alarming scale. This spike represents so many families who are grappling with the loss of a loved one.
“So much potential, squashed and squandered in this life. People at the peak of their lives, losing their lives.
“All told, an estimated 2.7 million people across the country are struggling with opioid dependence or addiction.
“You heard those heart wrenching stories yesterday. This is very serious. This is costing us lives.
“This is why we are so focused on ending this opioid epidemic. It’s why the bills we are passing this week and next week are so critical.
“We are acting on more than 50 initiatives covering a range of areas: prevention, treatment, recovery support, strengthening law enforcement tools, helping veterans, expanding research.
“This is all hands on deck, and we are going to keep at this, for the sake of the families who are hurting right now.”
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today talked about gratitude and civil society in remarks at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast.
Following are Speaker Ryan’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Good morning, everybody.
This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
I am so glad to be here with you this morning. Thank you, Reverend Cortes, for bringing us together.
Before I begin, I want to talk about a commitment I know we all share, and that is finding a way to fix our broken immigration system.
In the House, we have brought together lawmakers from across the spectrum, moderates and conservatives, to find a path forward.
As a result, we will have a debate and votes on the House floor next week.
My goal has always been a lasting solution, to address our security challenges, and to address the DACA program so we don’t have another problem five, ten years down the line.
Next week’s votes are an important step and I want to thank you for your leadership. Your voice plays a critical role in this discussion.
Now I am also glad that this morning is very different from the morning we had a year ago on this day.
At around this time last year, I was in my office on the phone with Jennifer Scalise.
Her husband, my dear friend, had just been shot on a ball field across the bridge in Alexandria.
That is about as much as we knew. We didn’t know how bad it was yet. We certainly didn’t know that Steve had such a long fight ahead of him.
There is one thing from that time I remember so vividly. No matter where I went, the first thing people would say to me was always, ‘How’s Steve Scalise? How’s his family? How are his kids? Please tell them we’re praying for them.’
I know many of those prayers came from the people in this room.
I am glad I have this chance to thank you on Steve’s behalf. Our prayers were answered. Thank you.
Days like that, trials like that, they make you think about what truly matters. They make you realize: we have so much to be thankful for.
We have this precious gift of life God has given us.
Gatherings like this make us grateful, too; grateful for fellowship and compassion.
It’s not always easy to be thankful, is it? We tend to wake up thinking about what we don’t have, what we haven’t figured out.
But every day we have this beautiful opportunity to give thanks.
A grateful heart can do so much. When things are getting away from us, it can slow us down to reflect. At our wit’s end, it can take us back to the start. In the trenches, it can counsel us to respond with kindness instead of in kind.
God gives us peace. He gives us a sense of wonder. He gives us the capacity to love unconditionally.
That, most days…that is more than enough.
And it doesn’t take much to have a grateful heart.
Jesus said all you need is “a grain of a mustard seed.”
One of my mentors is Bob Woodson, founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, one of the great poverty-fighters of our time.
Bob puts it so well when he says: “Faith in God transforms the inside, and that faith transforms the outside.”
Faith transforms the outside. It makes us healers.
There are people living out this message every day.
There is a ministry in San Antonio called Outcry in the Barrio. It is run by a friend of mine, Jubal Garcia.
Basically, they take heroin addicts off the street.
But they don’t just get them clean. They get them on the right path. They help them change their lives, and they do it through Christ.
I first visited Outcry four years ago. I can recall Jubal taking me from bed to bed. We knelt down, and he pulled me in, and showed me the scars, the track marks, on the arms of one of these men.
Then Jubal said—I’ll never forget this—he said, “help me pray for him.”
I have to tell you, in that moment, in that place, I did not see suffering. I saw possibilities. I saw how unifying, how transforming faith can truly be...how it sees the person, not the problem…how it heals soul-to-soul, eye-to-eye.
I saw how, as Jubal says, we can ‘heal ourselves’ as a country.
Look at how, right now, our economy is doing well. Hispanic unemployment fell to its lowest level on record this year. Wages are finally picking up.
We have this economic recovery. Now we need a recovery in our civil society too.
Too often, faith is used to divide us. It is used as a wedge, a cudgel for judging each other. And social media is a self-appointed jury that speeds all this up until it feeds on itself.
These debates often end up focused on the individual and the government. It diminishes what comes in between, which are the great mediating institutions in our lives.
Edmund Burke called them the “little platoons,” the places where we begin our “public affections.” They are the family, the churches and charities, the Scouts and the youth sports teams, the Esperanzas and the Outcry in the Barrios.
Tocqueville thought this was the genius of our system, how these institutions bond us to one another in a way land or government never can. They are the antibodies of the community, defending against both isolation and dependence.
They help foster that distinct sense of purpose that keeps us going…those things that, when the tank runs empty, they keep the heart full.
At the core of this is freedom, especially religious freedom.
Whether we are Republican or Democrat or independent, it does not matter.
We should all want our faith-based organizations to have the maximum freedom to carry out their missions…whether it is changing lives ravaged by opioids, empowering people to find a steady job, or building charter schools so more children can get a decent education.
The ‘little platoons’ can be the great equalizer. We should be an example for the world on this.
I want to close with a few words as a father.
When I announced my retirement from Congress, much of the media focused on what I was giving up.
All I could think about was what I was gaining.
What I am most grateful for these days is the chance to spend time with my kids.
We have three teenagers. Our son Charlie just graduated 8th grade from our parish school actually. It’s true what they say, how ‘the days go slow, but the years go fast.’ They really do.
I could go on and on about how their games went on Saturday, but it’s what we do on Sunday, on the Sabbath, that always sticks with me.
We just spend that time together—no real structure to it. But that time is where we really form those lasting bonds.
I want them to lead long, productive lives, and to prosper. But I think just as much about how I want to them to live.
That’s why those in-between moments mean so much to me.
That’s why this revival of civil society, of these mediating institutions, is so important to me.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Peter says:
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.”
It all begins with a grateful heart, with planting those mustard seeds of grace.
I truly believe that if we all do our part...if we start this recovery in our civil society…if we make room in our hearts, make time for one another…we can have a new time of thanksgiving, and a new birth of freedom in this country.
I pray for this. I pray for you. I pray that we all have more days to rejoice and be glad, to work together to ‘transform the outside.’
May God bless you all. May God bless the United States of America.
Yesterday, Speaker Ryan accepted the newest addition into the House's Portrait Collection, and for him, it was personal. Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) has served and sacrificed a lot in his life: a Prisoner of War, Interim Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and hero to Speaker Ryan (along with so many others).
Although Rep. Johnson will be retiring at the end of this term, his legacy of service will continue to serve as examples for all who know him and look upon his portrait, which will soon find its permanent home in the Sam Johnson Room in the Rayburn House Office Building.
Watch the video below for the unveiling of the portrait.
Summary: Today, Speaker Ryan joined Republican Leadership, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), and several other House members to share stories of people from their districts who have been impacted by opioid addiction. As the House considers more than 50 bills to combat the opioid epidemic from all sides, Speaker Ryan spoke about a Wisconsin mother who is spreading hope to families facing the trials of addiction.
“You’ve heard some stories here today. Let me give you a number: 115. 115 lives lost every day in America.
“Addiction can feel all-consuming. It can seem impossible to live out your true purpose. But it does not lower the inherent value of a human life.
“Every life has meaning, and no drug can take that away.
“All of us can offer our compassion to one another so that people struggling feel that they have a place to turn.
“That is also something we’re tackling here today. Look—this is Michelle Jaskulski. It’s a really good Wisconsin name.
“This is Michelle and one of her sons. She’s got two sons. Former high school athletes. Yet, as the case is so often, they became addicted to prescription painkillers, from injuries, and then, later, heroin.
“They are alive, they are clean now. But it was a long road there, and Michelle still worries—as you all know, sobriety is—it’s very fragile.
“Friends and relatives facing addiction, they don’t fully recover, it takes a long time.
“The one thing that strikes me about how she describes dealing with her sons’ addiction: It’s the pervasive loneliness.
“She says that she felt like no one else was dealing with her same struggle. She felt disconnected from her friends, she felt disconnected from her parents, from her faith.
“It goes to show that this can be such an isolating battle. Not just as one struggling with drug use, but for those trying to figure out how they can be there for their loved ones. Mothers taking care of their sons.
“But there is hope that came out of Michelle’s family’s struggle.
“Michelle has made it her mission to help families like hers get through the wilderness of drug addiction and the difficult road to recovery. She has been a tireless advocate for more resources to prevent and treat addiction.
“Congress has heard that call, too. We are taking action to tackle this opioid epidemic.
“Among other things, these bills will stem the flow of opioids into our country. They change the way opioids are prescribed and encourage non-opioid treatments. And they crack down on deadly synthetic drugs like fentanyl.
“And then they strengthen resources for prevention and treatment, including establishing more comprehensive recovery centers.
“We’ve learned a whole lot about this problem in a short period of time.
“In fact, the recovery community—the community that Michelle now helps uphold—is one of the most resilient. This is what she is doing now with her life—making sure that other families don’t fall into the trap that hers did.
“We should applaud that model of support. Our institutions should emulate and encourage this kind of fellowship.
“In those overcoming addiction, and in those supporting them, this is where I see America at its strongest.
“People coming together to help each other through these difficult times, getting rid of the isolation, and having a multi-pronged approach to tackle this opioid crisis.
“This is all about restoring hope, it’s about lifting up communities, and it’s about, hopefully, saving lives.”
By now, you may have seen Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) recent sarcastic comments in response to the lowest unemployment rate in half a century. “Hip, hip, hooray,” she said, going on to say that America’s workers are thinking, “I need a bigger paycheck.”
Now, we get it. The economy is on a roll. All those predictions of tax reform leading to “Armageddon” and “the end of the world” didn’t exactly pan out. So, naturally, why say you were wrong when you can pretend to still be right?
Just this morning, for instance, we got word that, with the help of tax reform, small business optimism has hit its highest level in more than 30 years. Expectations for increased sales are the highest in more than 20 years. And—wait for it— “reports of compensation increases also hit their highest in the history of the index.”
All this matters because, as is often said, “small businesses, as we know, are the backbone of our economy.” (Leader Pelosi’s words, and good ones too.)
There is this from Joint Economic Committee Chairman Erik Paulsen (R-MN):
“Average hourly earnings for rank-and-file production and nonsupervisory workers in May 2018 were 2.8 percent higher than a year ago, the fastest increase since July 2009. Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and regulatory reform, American workers’ wage growth is finally approaching the previous expansion’s 3 percent average.”
This is not just data. After years of being stuck, these are American workers and American families getting ahead.
This isn’t to say we should be sitting on our laurels, and all that. That’s why we just enacted critical legislation to help community banks and unlock credit for Main Street. We are working on improving infrastructure, and making it easier to get people out of poverty and into the workforce. “We are never going to stop fighting to make our economy better,” Speaker Ryan said recently.
Closing thought: So perhaps a rebranding is in order for our friends across the aisle? They could go the Stanley Cup Bandwagon route, and put it in #ALLCAPS. They could go with a renaming gimmick, in the style of IHOP (hence the subject line of this e-mail.) Or they could turn to the experts who really have their finger on the pulse of the working families in this country. Oh wait, they’re already doing that:
Thanks for reading.
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the following statement at the conclusion of President Trump’s summit with North Korea:
"For decades, American policy toward North Korea has failed, and I commend the president for not accepting the status quo. As negotiations now advance, there is only one acceptable final outcome: complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. We must always be clear that we are dealing with a brutal regime with a long history of deceit. Only time will tell if North Korea is serious this time, and in the meantime we must continue to apply maximum economic pressure. The road ahead is a long one, but today there is hope that the president has put us on a path to lasting peace in the Korean peninsula."
It’s been almost six months since the enactment of the biggest tax code overhaul in more than three decades. Already, more than one million jobs have been created in that time. And unemployment is at its lowest level in half a century.
Yet, Democratic leaders say that progress like this “means little” to families. It actually means quite a lot, especially in terms of how it’s helping workers get ahead—and we’re not just talking about bonuses and bigger paychecks.
In recent months, several companies have announced new investments in lifelong learning programs, credits employees can put toward tuition and books, and partnerships with educational institutions. These benefits are critical, helping employees advance and lay the groundwork for a better future.
Here are some examples:
As Speaker Ryan said this week, “This economic momentum—it doesn’t happen by accident. We don’t just fall into this stuff.” This is what happens when we pass worker-oriented, pro-growth policies. By making the ladder of opportunity a bit easier to climb, these important investments can change Americans’ lives for the better.
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the following statement on the White House’s new initiative to combat the opioid epidemic with a focus on educating young Americans about the dangers of opioid use and addiction:
“The opioid epidemic has no boundaries—it has brought harrowing losses to our communities and has cut short too many futures. We are resolute in the fight against this scourge, and with this new initiative to better educate young people about the realities and dangers of opioids, more lives can be saved. The measures the House will begin considering next week continue our work to prevent and treat these destructive addictions.”
WASHINGTON—A bill to help communities take on violent gangs like MS-13 heads to the president’s desk after being signed today by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). Authored by Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act makes resources available to state and local law enforcement agencies working to curb the rise in gang activity and violence. The measure passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Rep. Comstock joined Speaker Ryan for today’s signing, along with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA).
Speaker Ryan: “This is about protecting our communities. These gangs prey on young people in the worst way, with chilling violence and recruitment tactics. We want local law enforcement to have every resource at its disposal to stomp out this monstrous threat. Barbara Comstock has really stepped up to get Congress to focus on MS-13, and this initiative is a direct result of her efforts.”
Rep. Comstock: “Our communities need critical resources to battle violent transnational gangs like MS-13. The Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, comprised of 13 local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, explains that the best anti-gang method is a three-pronged approach: education, intervention/prevention, and enforcement. I have seen firsthand the good work that gang taskforces can do to remove the gang threats in our community. They are an important tool in crime prevention, and this legislation will make sure they have the tools they need to take on violent gangs like MS-13.”
Summary: At his weekly press conference, Speaker Ryan discussed immigration and three major pieces of legislation—two of which have been signed into law—to improve veterans’ care, expand pediatric cancer research, and help communities combat threats from violent gangs like MS-13.
“Morning. We just had a very productive conference meeting, in the House Republican Conference, to discuss solutions to our broken immigration system.
“Members were very engaged, and it’s clear that there are a lot of areas of consensus.
“I am pleased that members on all sides of our conference are engaging directly to find a solution.
“You know, one of the things that I don’t like about this job is how things just flow up to leadership to make big decisions. How we often, too often, centralize power around here.
“I’m happiest when the members—not the leaders—when the members are making policy decisions, going through the committee process. I’m happy that we have had this process on display this morning in our conference.
“So this is a conversation that will continue, and hopefully we can find a path ahead that is consistent with the four pillars that the president laid out and avoids a pointless discharge petition.”
Achievements for the American People
“And one of the things I do like about this job is getting big things done for the American people.
“Our economy is on a roll, workers are getting ahead.
“Unemployment is at its lowest level in half a century. Wages are up, confidence is up. More than 1 million jobs have been created since the passage of tax reform.
“Here are three vital pieces of legislation that either have become law or are about to become law:
“The most significant pediatric cancer bill in history, which will make it easier to find cures and treatments for these brave patients.
“A sweeping measure to improve the care of our veterans, with more bold reforms to fix problems at the VA.
“And critical resources to help local law enforcement take on violent gangs like MS-13.
“Next week, the House is going to take action on more initiatives to combat the opioid epidemic, which is a scourge that is killing 115 Americans a day.
“All of this is about improving people’s lives.
“It is about addressing the things that families and communities deal with each and every day.
“That’s why we are here. And that’s why we are seeing such success.”
Summary: Today, Speaker Ryan shared some of the biggest economic news from the past week, highlighting the healthy job market, rising wages, and economic growth that have been strengthened by the House’s policies. He also previewed the water infrastructure bill the House will consider today to improve America’s ports, dams, and waterways.
“What I’m about to say may sound familiar because it’s worth repeating.
“This economy is on a roll, there is just no two ways about it.
“There are 6.7 million jobs open in this country. This is a record.
“In fact, as Kevin just said, the number of jobs that are open actually exceeds the number of jobs that people are seeking.
“Think about this for a second. This is a great time to enter the job market.
“Unemployment is at 3.8 percent. 3.8 percent unemployment rate is the lowest unemployment rate in half a century.
“Wages are growing too. The wage growth is truly impressive.
“Every decline to unemployment represents one more American getting off the sidelines, getting in the job market, climbing the ladder of life. Every job that is open represents a new opportunity for another American.
“This is why we’re doing this.
“This economic momentum—it doesn’t happen by accident. We don’t just fall into this stuff. We’ve worked hard to create an economic environment where this kind of growth is possible.
“That’s what these policies produce.
“Last week, I went to a Kroger plant in Springdale, Ohio, with Steve Chabot. This is where they make the ice cream at Kroger.
“After tax reform, they used the savings to hire more people, to raise wages, to improve benefits.
“They put new education benefits for lifelong learning for their employees, and they increased their 401(k) match.
“These are the types of changes that help workers put food on the table, helps workers get better education to get ahead, and helps people feel more secure in their retirement.
“Why? Because employers are giving more benefits to employees, they’re hiring more people, there are more opportunities.
“Again, this good news—these don’t come together by accident. They come together because of good policies.
“And this result is what matters most.
“The purpose of all of these policies is to improve people’s lives. It’s to build a stronger, healthier, more prosperous America.
“This week, we’re voting on another infrastructure bill, a water infrastructure bill, which is critically important to keep our economic growth going.
“It will make it easier to complete projects improving our ports, our waterways, our dams, our harbors.
“This is yet another way that we are supporting the competitiveness of an American economy and helping put our industries in a position to drive future growth in the future.”
This week, amid strong economic momentum, we will be moving forward with another piece of our agenda to bolster our nation’s infrastructure—specifically, water infrastructure.
The bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct projects improving water infrastructure: the ports, dams, and waterways that help facilitate commerce throughout our country and with the world.
This policy is yet another step to cut through barriers to economic growth, by enabling federal investments in locally proposed projects that will make our water infrastructure operate more efficiently and productively. If passed, WRDA will add to the progress we’ve already made this year when it comes to rebuilding America’s infrastructure. Congress sent the president a government funding bill that included $21.2 billion in new funding for infrastructure improvements. The administration announced a series of permitting reforms based on tools Congress provided in the most recent highway bill. And the House has passed a critical FAA reauthorization bill to upgrade airports and air travel.
This bill will help our industries maintain their competitive edge. To compete globally, a country needs efficient, high-quality ports. Ours, which process nearly $4 billion in exports and imports each day, can now get the updates they need. It will help maintain our network of inland waterways, which weaves through every state in the country. These waterways support $230 billion worth of cargo annually, connecting manufacturers and builders with essential commodities that support their trades and American jobs. And the bill includes reforms to prevent project delays.
By passing bills in 2014, 2016, and now with this bill, Congress has returned WRDA to a two-year cycle to ensure regulatory hurdles aren’t preventing infrastructure from being kept up to date.
All of this goes toward building on the economic gains we’ve already made during this Congress, and making changes that people will see in their everyday lives.
In 1966, the first episode of the original "Firing Line with William F. Buckley” explored the federal government’s War on Poverty. Now, 52 years later, Margaret Hoover and PBS are relaunching the iconic program with a conversation about that same issue with Speaker Ryan.
The conversation comes at an opportune time. Through the new tax law, states are setting up opportunity zones to bring much-needed private investment to distressed communities. The House is making progress on reforms to help more people get out of poverty and into the workforce. “We want to break the cycle,” Speaker Ryan says in the interview.
Watch the full interview here and check out excerpts below.
“Defining success based on results”
Speaker Ryan: “For 50 years, people, mostly in the left, have defined success in the war on poverty based on how much money are you throwing at a problem. How many programs are you creating? How many people are on the federal programs? Not defining success based on results. Are there fewer people in poverty? I mean what ought to happen if we are successful, is fewer and fewer and fewer people are using the program because they aren't poor anymore, and that is how we think success ought to be defined, so I think the metrics had been distorted for a long time, and now we finally can get to a conversation where what works is what we ought to do.”
“This is about saving souls, not dollars”
Speaker Ryan: “We'll save money in the back end when people are out of poverty. That’s where that money will be saved…this is like our food stamp reforms we are pushing right now. This is not about a big money saving exercise, this is about saving souls, not dollars. So the federal government should monitor supply lines, provide resources, but they shouldn't micro-manage the front lines in fighting poverty. The people and the groups on the ground, eye-to-eye, soul-to-soul, person-to-person, they are the ones best equipped to solve these problems and help people. That's why we want society to get re-engaged in…these groups and mediating institutions to help solve these problems. And then now, in the 21st century, we have a bill that does this. We can actually measure success very accurately and measure it based on results and outcomes, not on input and dollars spent.”
“Opportunity zones are now law of the land”
Speaker Ryan: “And there are things we have done that are in law just this year that we believe will bring people into fighting poverty…When I was a young Jack Kemp guy, we were fighting for something called "enterprise zones.” We now have opportunities zones in law, part of our tax law, something that I worked on with Tim Scott, a senator from South Carolina…Opportunity zones are now law of the land. What that means is 25% of the poorest census tracts in America are now eligible for an opportunity zone. A person can sell an asset, not pay capital gains on it…invest that money into an opportunity zone. If they keep it there for ten years, that investment in these poor areas, they don't pay capital gains taxes on it. So what this means is there’s about six trillion dollars of untapped wealth, of unrealized capital gains, that can now be directed into the poorest communities of America, to bring back jobs, to bring education, to bring revitalization into these neighborhoods. We also had something called social impact bonds, which is we want to have a social good that we want to focus on, we can bring private capital to it, float a bond to finance fixing these social problems in these poor communities and if it works, the bond pays off. If it doesn't, it doesn't, so it is all evidence-based policy making. Two great private sector ideas to focus on getting people in the private sector in our communities on fixing problems in poor communities.”
“It is a perfect time in this kind of economy, with a low unemployment rate, with the lowest jobless rate in [nearly] 48 years, to get people out of poverty [and] into the workforce”
Speaker Ryan: “We had two pilot projects to prove this idea—one in Maine and one in Kansas—which says if you introduce a work requirement for an able-bodied adult on food stamps that doesn't have small kids, so we’re talking about people ages 18 to 59, there are 12 million who are not working, who are not looking for work, or not in school, so their skills are atrophying. They are on the sidelines. We want to pull them in the workforce. We’ve got over 6 million jobs available right now in America that are going unfilled. So it is a perfect time in this kind of economy, with a low unemployment rate, with the lowest jobless rate in [nearly] 48 years, to get people out of poverty [and] into the workforce. What we are saying is you have to put 20 hours of work in a week or 20 hours of going to school or serving in a community, like a charity. And if you want to go to school, your costs will be covered. So this is, again, not about saving money, it is about saving lives. It says if you are an able-bodied person, don't have small kids, you have to put in 20 hours of work, you have to go to work or go to school and your cost of school will be covered, because we believe this is how you pull people off the sidelines…and what we’ve learned is when you introduce a work requirement like that, it actually works.”
“We want to get people on to the life they want”
Speaker Ryan: “I think at the end of the day, a person who will go from food stamps to school, into a career and to be able to support themselves and have a family and live a great life and meet potential, that person will not be consuming these benefits and we'll save money at the back end. But what's more important than saving money is a person will reach their potential. The American Idea will be revitalized so that the condition of your birth doesn't determine the outcome of your life in this country. A lot of people don't think that's true for them anymore. A lot of people are [in a] multi-generational poverty [trap]. We want to break the cycle. We want to get people into the life they want, onto the ladder of life. And we really believe that this kind of tool does that and we tried it and it's worked, so that's why we are pushing it.”
By most accounts, the U.S. economy is roaring. “The US economy has this incredible head of steam,” one analyst said. In the past week, there’s been tons of good news showing the country’s economic momentum—and most importantly, how this growth is reaching working Americans.
All this good news has Democrats “worrying.” That's because they fought tax reform at every turn, and continue to do so, pledging to raise taxes if given the chance. They want to return us to the economic rut we faced for years.
But we aren't going back. The results speak for themselves, including a jobs report so strong the New York Times “ran out of words” to describe how good it was:
Read more from our by-the-numbers series below:
If today’s jobs report tells us anything, it’s that the American economy is in great shape. Thanks to tax reform, business owners and workers alike are seeing an economic environment ripe with opportunity—which leads us to our next point.
Recently, we’ve been talking about opportunity zones and how they’re designed for “pockets of the country in desperate need of revitalization.” More and more, states and local communities are starting to realize just how transformative these zones could be. In fact, opportunity zones have been approved in all but four states nationwide—that’s a whole lot of economic potential for communities that need it.
Here are some highlights from areas across the country welcoming new opportunity zones to their neighborhoods:
In North Carolina, 252 of its lowest-income areas have been designated as opportunity zones. This is especially great news for the state’s rural communities.
In Illinois, Governor Bruce Rauner announced 327 opportunity zones throughout 85 counties in the state. In his words, “These zones include some of the most underserved areas of the state that have the greatest potential for improvement.”
In Massachusetts, the community of Gloucester is hopeful its two designated zones will attract investors and, in turn, boost its economy.
In Michigan, local leaders are hopeful the new incentives will generate investment, and are working with federal officials to learn and share more information about the program to designated neighborhoods.
In West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) recently announced 55 opportunity zones across the state had been certified. Justice said this new economic development tool “continues our movement forward and the hope for brighter days ahead.”
In Iowa, officials say they’ve seen a “waiting list” of potential investors, springing optimism for the potential success of the opportunity zones program in the state’s 62 designated communities.
In Oregon, business owners are excited about what the zones mean for their businesses, with one saying “We really have an opportunity to create jobs.”
And that’s only just the start. To learn more about opportunity zones, visit speaker.gov—and be sure to keep an eye out in your own neck of the woods.
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued the following statement on the decision to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union:
“I disagree with this decision. Instead of addressing the real problems in the international trade of these products, today’s action targets America’s allies when we should be working with them to address the unfair trading practices of countries like China. There are better ways to help American workers and consumers. I intend to keep working with the president on those better options.”
Our economy is soaring. The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in nearly 20 years and workers are seeing better wages and benefits. Businesses are creating jobs. This is all good news. But that doesn’t mean the People’s House is slowing down.
May was a heavy legislative month: Nearly 60 bills—many bipartisan—passed the House. President Trump also signed several major pieces of legislation, including “Right to Try” legislation to provide hope to terminally ill patients and their families, and a major reform of the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure our veterans get the care they’ve earned and deserve.
Here are nine photos that show some of our favorite moments from May:
1. The Enrollment Ceremony – Last week, Congress sent three major pieces of legislation to the president’s desk—three items that have been in the works for a long time. Joined by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL), and Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Speaker Ryan signs a financial reform bill that cuts overregulation in order to help small businesses and American families.
2. Ceremony Honoring Fallen Law Enforcement – Speaker Ryan joins President Trump, Vice President Pence, and members of the cabinet for a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol honoring fallen law enforcement officers during National Police Week.
3. The Cowboy Boots – Speaker Ryan sports a pair of cowboy boots at his weekly press conference.
4. The Coast Guard Commandant – Speaker Ryan shares a laugh with the incoming United States Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz.
5. The Student Stop-By – Speaker Ryan surprises a group of students from Fort Worth, Texas on the Speaker’s Balcony during their tour of the Capitol.
6. Familiar Faces – Speaker Ryan meets with members of the Wisconsin Trucking Association, who were in town discussing issues facing their industry.
7. The Kay Coles James Sit-Down – Kay Coles James, President of The Heritage Foundation, sits down with Speaker Ryan to discuss workforce development. They agreed that the role of government should be to empower people to achieve their own American Idea.
8. The Great Laurel vs. Yanny Debate – Speaker Ryan settles the Laurel/Yanny debate at a weekly press conference: “I’d like to declare something that is just so obvious: It is ‘Laurel’ and not ‘Yanny.’…How many ‘Laurel’ fans here? Right? Thank you.”
9. Blast from the Past – Speaker Ryan meets with Wisconsin YMCA leaders to discuss their summer programming. When he was a teenager, the speaker served as a counselor at Camp Manito-wish. As he stated: “I’m a Y guy!”
There was so much happening last week, we wouldn’t be surprised if you missed some things. The House was busy at work with a “flurry of legislative activity,” sending three bills to the president’s desk: the VA MISSION Act to improve care for veterans; a Dodd-Frank reform bill lightening the burden of financial regulations; and Right to Try legislation to ensure terminally ill patients have access to expanded treatment options.
But we wanted to highlight a few of the House’s other achievements from the past week that may have gone under the radar—all steps taken to help improve Americans’ lives:
On top of all these positives, news came that the U.S. has now reclaimed the title of world’s most competitive economy. Things are continuing to look up for Americans.
ROCHESTER, WI—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke today at the 152nd Memorial Day Service in Rochester, Wisconsin. His remarks, as prepared, are below:
"This, to me, is small-town tradition—small-town patriotism—at its finest.
“Think about how, before this—before a local telegrapher organized a small ceremony to honor his younger brother, who died for the Union—this really hadn’t been done before in America.
“Think about how, before America—before our Founders conceived a government by the people, based on a vision of liberty and justice for all—that idea had never been tried before in the world.
“It is an idea so inspiring, so animating that generations have given their lives to preserve it.
“They met those gravest moments—on the beaches, in the muck and the jungle, through the fire—they met them so honestly and courageously.
“They loved their country.
“This is why we come here, year after year—not because any law or ordinance requires it.
“We gather here out of a deep love of country, and a shared recognition that the blessings of freedom come at a dear cost.
“Memorial Day is such a profound statement of our patriotism.
“It ties simple ritual to ultimate sacrifice.
“It ties our daily lives to the greater things.
“It ties our darkest hours to the torch of liberty.
“There are, I think, at least three things each of us can do in our own way to honor Memorial Day.
“The first is, remember the fallen by honoring the living.
“Many of these men and women laid down their lives to protect their comrades. Many died thinking about their loved ones back home, maybe holding a picture of them, praying they would be okay.
“We should think about what each of us can do to take care of the heroes who live on: our veterans, our wounded warriors, our Gold Star families. God bless them all.
“The second thing is, we should really think about what each of us can do to rekindle and renew this beautiful American Idea—these principles of liberty and self-determination—so that we can pass it on to our children, just as we will pass on this great tradition itself.
“The third thing we can do is think about the service members from our communities who wear the uniform today.
“I have had no greater privilege on your behalf than spending time with them, wherever they are stationed in the world.
“They are truly the best of us.
“After September 11th, I began to carry around a list of young men from this area who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, sons of Racine, Rock, Kenosha, and Walworth counties.
“In closing, I would like to read their names and observe a brief moment of silence:
Private First Class Sean Schneider
Specialist Justin Linden
Private First Class Andrew Halverson
U.S. Marine Corps
Lance Corporal Daniel Wyatt
U.S. Marine Corps
Sergeant First Class Donald Eacho
Specialist Eric Poelman
Lance Corporal Ryan Nass
U.S. Marine Corps
Staff Sergeant Nathan Vacho
Private First Class Eric Clark
Private Evan Bixler
Corporal Keith Nurnberg
Captain Rhett Schiller
Private First Class Timothy Hanson
Staff Sergeant Christopher Frost
U.S. Air Force
Corporal Richard Nelson
U.S. Marine Corps
Sergeant First Class Brian Naseman
Specialist Kevin Graham
Lance Corporal Jacob Meinert
U.S. Marine Corps
Specialist Robert Rieckhoff
Specialist Scott Nagorski
Private First Class Donnell Hamilton, Jr.
"God bless America. Thank you."
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released this statement following today’s Department of Justice briefing:
“In 1977, the House of Representatives created a permanent intelligence oversight committee to protect the public and our constitutional liberties. That committee is provided by law with access to our most sensitive secrets and charged with protecting from disclosure anything that would harm the security of this nation. Inherent in the committee’s work is the responsibility to ask tough questions of the executive branch. That is why we have insisted and will continue to insist on Congress’s constitutional right to information necessary for the conduct of oversight.
“I appreciate the Department arranging today’s briefing. As always, I cannot and will not comment on a classified session. I look forward to the prompt completion of the intelligence committee’s oversight work in this area now that they are getting the cooperation necessary for them to complete their work while protecting sources and methods.”
8:00 a.m. Address to the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast
In an address at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Speaker Ryan urged all Catholics to come together to combat the spread of tribalism and identity politics.
“Let us recommit ourselves to living not just successful lives, but the faithful lives that the grace of God makes possible for all of us. Let us recapture these beautiful, unifying principles of Catholic social teaching. That’s how we can give America a new birth of freedom rightly understood.”
Read the Speaker’s full remarks here.
9:15 a.m. Enrollment Ceremony for Three Major Pieces of Legislation
Back at the Capitol, Speaker Ryan was joined by a number of committee chairs to send three important pieces of legislation to the president’s desk:
“Today, these three bills are set to become law. Today, months—in some cases years—of hard work come to a successful conclusion. Today, we turn good ideas into real results to help improve people’s lives.”
Read the Speaker’s full remarks here.
9:35 a.m. Floor Remarks on the National Defense Authorization Act
On the House floor, Speaker Ryan called for passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which builds on the recent historic increase in defense funding, and gives our troops their biggest pay raise in nine years. The House approved the measure with 351 votes.
“Mr. Speaker, this is a very busy week in the House. . . . Earlier this year, we enacted a historic increase in military funding, made possible by the bipartisan budget agreement that came before it. This allowed us to advance the bill that we have before us right here today. . . . This National Defense Authorization—it presents another major step toward rebuilding and reforming our military.”
Read the Speaker’s full remarks here.
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today signed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act, and the VA MISSION Act, sending them to the president’s desk. Below are the remarks he delivered at the enrollment ceremony:
“Hello everybody. We are here to send three significant pieces of legislation to the president’s desk. This is legislation that will make a real difference to improve people’s lives.
“It’s incredible what this Congress has achieved just this week.
“First up is the financial reform bill.
“This is going to help community banks that have been hurting for years under overregulation.
“It will create a better environment for Main Street to thrive. It will open up more opportunities for families and small businesses. It will make the economy stronger.
“I want to thank Chairman Jeb Hensarling and the members of the Financial Services Committee for their work on this legislation.
“Then is the right-to-try bill.
“Because of this law, terminally ill patients will be able to get access to experimental treatments and therapies to have a chance for a longer life.
“This gives families—those who have been really hurting—this gives them something that they have not been able to get: more time and more hope.
“I want to thank Chairman Walden and the Energy and Commerce Committee—I want to thank Ron Johnson, from Wisconsin—for their tireless efforts that have made this day possible.
“And then third, we have the VA MISSION Act.
“Memorial Day reminds us of our moral obligation to do right by our nation’s heroes. This bill will give veterans better access to the care that they need and the care that they deserve.
“It is another critical step in the work, led by Chairman Roe and the members of his committee, and Chairman Isakson, to put the VA back on track.
“All of these are promises that we have kept. And there is more to come.
“Today, the House will act on legislation to continue rebuilding our military, and give our servicemembers another well-deserved pay raise.
“And in the coming weeks, we will be acting to combat the opioid epidemic that is ravaging our communities.
“But today, these three bills are set to become law.
“Today, months—in some cases years—of hard work has come to a successful conclusion.
“Today, we turn good ideas into real results to help improve people’s lives.
“I am just so proud of that.
“Before we sign these bills, I’d like to ask our committee chairs to say a few words about these very important pieces of legislation.”
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the following statement after President Trump announced there would be no summit with North Korea next month:
"The North Korean regime has long given ample reason to question its commitment to stability. We must continue to work with our allies toward a peaceful resolution, but that will require a much greater degree of seriousness from the Kim regime. At the same time, Congress has provided significant tools to hold North Korea accountable, and it is important that the United States not relent in this maximum pressure campaign."
WASHINGTON—At the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast today, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) urged all Catholics to come together to address the spread of tribalism and identity politics in our country. Following are Speaker Ryan’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“Good morning, everybody. I am honored to be here with friends and colleagues—people I have admired and worked with for a long time.
“So there is a psalm I like a lot. It is the 46th psalm: ‘Be still and know that I am God.’
“We live our lives at such a relentless pace. There’s rarely time to slow down, let alone be still.
“But the stillness of reflection—of prayer—is where we reconnect with our faith, with our place in the circle of humanity.
“Stillness is even more precious in a time when our public discourse has become more raucous than rational. ‘The survival of the shrillest,’ some have called it.
“We tend to fixate on the shrillness, but let’s talk about survival for a moment. It seems like we are always in survival mode, doesn’t it? Trying to get through the day, if not the hour. We go through the motions, we argue on the margins. We get absorbed in intrigue that isn’t so intriguing.
“There is a line attributed to Saint Augustine: ‘God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.’
“I want to spend a few minutes reflecting on some of the gifts God is trying to give us, namely what Catholic social doctrine brings to public life.
“Because there is a deeply serious problem we see right now within our society.
“We see moral relativism becoming more and more pervasive in our culture. Identity politics and tribalism have grown on top of this. All of it has been made more prevalent by 21st century technology. And there is plenty of money to be made on making it worse.
“If there was ever a time and place where Catholics—from the clergy to the laity—are needed, it is here and now, in helping to solve this problem.
“Our social doctrine is a perfect antidote to what ails our culture. It begins with a vision of a free and virtuous society—not a set of policy prescriptions or even a toolkit for producing those prescriptions—but a vision of dignity and possibility.
“It is a vision that inspires us to serve the common good, to live faithfully, and to renew the hope that our Founders' vision of liberty and justice for all can be achieved in our less-than-perfect world.
“As lay Catholics, nothing is more fulfilling than living out our faith, with joy, with passion, with purpose. It is why this breakfast was founded, to heed Saint John Paul II's call for a ‘new evangelization.’ ‘Cast out to the deep,’ he would say.
“Because again, we are so often stuck in the shallow end, in survival mode.
‘Our social doctrine does not offer instant answers or easy outcomes. It gives us something far more important, far more animating: a way to conduct our public discourse so that a measure of wisdom is achieved through common work toward noble ends.
“This goes beyond a call for civility. The problems we are facing are bigger than the tone we take.
“Our social doctrine teaches us that democracy requires solidarity, a sense of civic friendship. We see our neighbors as partners in this common enterprise—even when we disagree, especially when we disagree.
“That friendship is the foundation for a mature civic patriotism, where we live our freedom for the common good, not just our personal gain.
“It is a patriotism grounded in respect for the inherent dignity and inalienable value of every person. We believe every person has a role and a voice in the community of concern and protection. No one is written off.
“The good news—the great news—is that there are new evangelizers living out this doctrine all around us.
“One of them is a woman named Heather Reynolds. Heather runs Catholic Charities Fort Worth.
“For years, I had been hearing about all the great work they were doing down there. Last month, I finally had the chance to see it firsthand.
“We sat down with some of their clients and case workers. That's how they do everything: case management, a customized approach.
“One gentleman, his name was Chris. Chris grew up in a big family, and he watched his older siblings get into all kinds of trouble.
“His fate was the farm or the oil field. That was it. No way out.
“One day Chris told his wife, he wanted to go to nursing school. He reached out to Catholic Charities.
“They helped him navigate the system, figure out how to make it work. Even after he graduated, they are still there for him and his family.
“What stands out for Chris is not any one thing Catholic Charities did to help him. It is, he said, ‘the feeling that you have an out, that you don't have to settle.’
“This, to me, is the great manifestation of the social magisterium. It is that sense of self-worth and meaning we can receive only from the institutions closest to us.
“People and problems are not treated as abstractions. The work is done eye-to-eye, soul-to-soul.
“That capacity to flourish—and to falter—is at the very heart of subsidiarity.
“See, that’s a word I can use with this audience, subsidiarity. It is a beautiful principle, especially when conjoined with its rightful partner: solidarity.
“Catholic social teaching tells us that our public moral culture—the foundation of our political culture—is shaped by these natural institutions and free associations of civil society.
“And it cautions us against allowing the state too great a reach into civil society.
“Otherwise, we risk stifling what de Tocqueville found so admirable in our young republic: those instincts for free association, philanthropy, and voluntarism.
“We need these mediating institutions in our lives. We need them to be healthy and vibrant. They are not just a pause from the noise, or a refuge from the ugliness. They are part of the antidote to what ails our society.
“Pope Francis has called all Catholics to be healers of the walking wounded. We should welcome that reminder, for it brings us back to what Catholics in this country have done for generations.
“We should all insist that public policy at every level permits Catholic institutions the maximum freedom to serve the poor...the elderly...children yearning for foster families...women in crisis pregnancies…families torn apart by the opioid epidemic: all those who look to the church for the help they need to live lives of purpose. We should insist on this.
“Mother Teresa, now Saint Teresa, once said this: ‘God has not called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful.’
“The journey is the thing. It always has been. We obsess about how things look. Everything in politics is about 'optics,' a word I assure you I will not miss.
“Think of the good we could do if we spent a little more time looking inward, pondering how we are all imperfect, we are all fallen. Everything flows from that common humanity, from that stillness.
“Let us recommit ourselves to living not just successful lives, but the faithful lives that the grace of God makes possible for all of us. Let us recapture these beautiful, unifying principles of Catholic social teaching.
“That’s how we can give America a new birth of freedom rightly understood. That’s how we can sustain the institutions of self-governance. That's how we can transform the public debate.
“At this moment, with these challenges before us, I see a tremendous opportunity for Catholics to lead…to help bring our culture and our country closer to their great moral potential.
“We are uniquely suited for this task, but from the clergy to the laity, we all have to be willing to step up. We all have to be willing to ‘cast out to the deep.’
“Now I do not know what lies in store for me next.
“But I promise you this: I am going to continue thinking about, and talking about, these things.
“Even if it is just as a parishioner in Janesville, Wisconsin at coffee and donuts after Mass, I will be there.
“Thank you for listening this morning.
“I pray that the peace of Christ will be with you, with your families, and with this nation we love, always.”
The biggest increase in defense funding in 15 years recently became law. We have entered a new era for our military, and now we are passing new reforms to keep building this 21st-century fighting force.
Tomorrow, the House will consider the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This bill, which passed out of committee with a 60-1 vote, authorizes $717 billion in defense spending. It gives our troops their biggest pay raise in nine years, and gives special pay and bonuses to those in high-demand fields.
This NDAA does several things to ensure our armed forces can operate safely and efficiently. It provides training funding for all branches and updates military aircraft to address the troubling rise in accidents. In an investigation earlier this year, the Military Times found “accidents involving all of the military’s manned fighter, bomber, helicopter and cargo warplanes rose nearly 40 percent from fiscal years 2013 to 2017,” killing at least 133 servicemembers.
This underscores how serious and important this legislation is. Our servicemembers make up the strongest armed forces in the world, and they deserve to be equipped with resources matching that caliber.
The bill authorizes funding to go toward updating and replacing Army equipment and strengthening the Naval fleet. It will help rebuild military infrastructure, including through $11.3 billion authorized for military construction.
Our military must be able to confront challenges emerging in key areas like the Indo-Pacific Region. This bill helps them do that, while maintaining long-term goals in the area. It supports strategic initiatives and joint exercises with our regional allies, and strengthens our ability to confront continued aggression by China.
The bill ensures we are prepared to face modern threats by supporting the development of new technologies, and by investing in our nuclear deterrent and missile defense system. And not only does this NDAA take a major step toward restoring military readiness—it also cuts down on bureaucracy that limits our military’s flexibility by reforming defense agencies.
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued the following statement after the Trump administration released its Protect Life Rule to amend the Title X family planning program:
“This is a good day for the cause of life. These changes will protect the unborn and prevent Title X taxpayer funds from being used to support abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. Just as vital, this will ensure that Title X health providers are not forced to choose between their patients and their conscience. We are pleased with this progress, and remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting life and religious liberty.”
Washington—Today, the House passed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act and the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act. Following their passage, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released this statement:
“Today, the House passed two critical pieces of bipartisan legislation that are soon to become law. We look forward to sending these bills to the president’s desk.”
Financial Regulatory Reform
“This is a major step forward in freeing our economy from overregulation. Our smaller banks are engines of growth. By lending to small businesses and offering banking services for consumers, these institutions are and will remain vital for millions of Americans who participate in our economy. By tailoring regulation for these institutions, this bill opens the door to new opportunities for families and small businesses. This critical reform could not have happened without the commitment of my friend Jeb Hensarling, who has driven the House’s efforts to bring regulatory relief to the financial system and the Americans who depend on it.”
Right to Try
“Terminally ill patients—and their loved ones—deserve the opportunity to try whatever option is available that may offer a chance for a longer life. For patients who may not qualify for certain trials—or who have tried all other options—this bill will allow them to access experimental treatments and therapies. I want to recognize Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and Andy Biggs, as well as Chairman Greg Walden, for all their work on this issue. Fundamentally, this is about honoring the will of patients and their families.”
Summary: Today, Speaker Ryan spoke about work the House is doing this week to make the country’s economy even stronger, building on policies that have already created a healthier environment for working Americans. In particular, he discussed the financial reform bill the House will consider this afternoon, which will ease overly strict regulations on small banks, enabling them to better serve consumers and fuel economic growth.
“So this is, as Kevin just mentioned, a very, very busy week here in the House. We are sending the president a number of important bills.
“It starts with the financial services reforms that we’re going to pass today.
“This is a bill for the small banks that are the financial anchors of our communities.
“If you crisscross the country, you will find that community banks have been drying up.
“We’ve been losing them, and that means capital has been starved to businesses that need it to expand. This will help reverse that.
“It addresses some of Dodd-Frank’s biggest burdens to ease the regulatory costs on these smaller banks—costs which are ultimately transferred on to consumers.
“It encourages capital formation to ensure businesses have access to reliable financing.
“And it improves credit access for small businesses and Americans by making it a lot easier for these community banks to stay in business and lend.
“I want to thank Chairman Hensarling for being a consistent champion of these efforts. No one has been more committed to getting this done than our Financial Services Committee chairman.
“These reforms are yet just one other way that we are unlocking economic growth, so that we can make a real difference in people’s lives.
“We are never going to stop fighting to make this economy better, to make it deeper, and to make it so that everyone has a shot at their version of the American Idea.
“We are already seeing these policies working, by the way.
“Just yesterday, the Gallup poll released this: Sixty-seven percent of Americans believe that now is a good time to find a quality job in the United States. That is a record high.
“Two-thirds of our fellow citizens in this country now believe it is a good time to find a quality job in the United States.
“This means Americans looking for work, they’re encouraged by the opportunities that they’re seeing.
“It means students coming out of college or coming out of technical school can feel optimistic about the job market they’re about to enter.
“And it means workers who may have been unsure about taking that leap forward in their careers now feel more confident that they can do that.
“This good news does not just stop there.
“Utility bills are coming down; wages are going up.
“And business investment is up and set to increase even more. That leads to higher wages, more productivity—a sounder, firmer, healthier economy.
“All of this means Americans are truly seeing the benefits of our country’s economic momentum.
“We want to keep it going, and that is why these bills are so important and this is such a productive week.”
Today, the House will vote on the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, sending to the president ideas put forward by Chairman Jeb Hensarling and the members of the House Financial Services Committee to provide relief for consumers and community financial institutions.
Indeed, this bill takes the House’s approach to regulatory reform, striking a balance between ensuring a safe and sound banking system and promoting economic growth. It is an important part of our plan to untangle financial regulations from their hold on our economy, and bring common sense and financial opportunity back to communities across the country.
Here are some of the key changes this bill will make to improve our financial system:
The country’s smaller institutions play an integral role in our financial system, facilitating lending and retail banking services. Finally, they’re getting the relief they need.
The folks at Gallup are out with more good news this morning:
“Optimism About Availability of Good Jobs Hits New Heights. Sixty-seven percent of Americans believe that now is a good time to find a quality job in the U.S., the highest percentage in 17 years of Gallup polling. … Americans in all age, income and education groups are decidedly more positive about the job market now than before Trump's election. . . With unemployment continuing to drop, Americans now survey the job market with a higher level of confidence that jobs are available and that the jobs are ones worth having.”
This follows a new CBS News poll yesterday showing that “nearly 2 in 3 Americans think the nation's economy is in good shape. . .”
And—rule of threes—it comes after a separate Gallup survey showing that Americans are more satisfied with the way things are going in the country than they have been in nearly 13 years.
If you look at some of the great economic news from just the past week, it is not hard to figure out why Americans are feeling so optimistic:
On Thursday, Speaker Ryan talked about some of this good news, saying, “A thriving economy means there are more job openings. A thriving economy means there are more opportunities. A thriving economy means families get ahead, people get out of poverty, kids come out of college with opportunities and offerings. That’s what a thriving economy means.”
Read more from our by the numbers series:
Four More Reasons to Feel Good About The Economy
May These Four Numbers Be With You
Tax Reform Lifting Outlooks for Consumers and Businesses
Tax Reform Continues to Help Families, Drive Momentum
Tax Reform Keeps Delivering for America’s Workers
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today issued the following statement:
“Our hearts are filled with grief over this horrific loss of life. We are thinking of all the students, educators, families, and first responders affected by the attack at Santa Fe High School. No community should have to endure this. It is a tragedy. While we need to learn more about what took place here, it is urgent that we implement the reforms Congress recently passed to make schools safer and keep deadly weapons away from those who should not have them. This is a time to come together in support of the Santa Fe community.”
Summary: At his weekly press conference, Speaker Ryan discussed how a healthier economy has sparked renewed optimism among Americans. He also talked about the 2018 Farm Bill, remaining pieces of the Better Way agenda, and all the work the House is doing to make progress on “these things that matter most in people’s lives.”
A Thriving Economy Means More Opportunities
“You know, there is a lot of good news out there today.
“And let me just start with this: Americans are more satisfied than they have been in nearly 13 years with the way things are going in the country.
“That is according to the Gallup poll, just today: Americans are more satisfied than they have been in nearly 13 years.
“This is great to see.
“On the economy: Jobless claims remain near a 48-year low.
“Retail sales are up for the second month.
“Industrial production is up for the third straight month.
“So the economy is growing, workers are getting ahead, there are new jobs and opportunities being offered by the day.
“But if you saw yesterday’s Ways and Means hearing, Democrats are still using the same old doom-and-gloom talk that they were using six months ago.
“They seem to be in deep denial about all of this good news.
“It was bizarre before, and it is even more bizarre now, when Democrats are openly calling for tax increases, which will do nothing but harm our economy.
“A thriving economy means there are more job openings. A thriving economy means there are more opportunities.
“A thriving economy means families get ahead, people get out of poverty, kids come out of college with opportunities and offerings.
“That’s what a thriving economy means.”
This Is the Right Time to Take Action on Workforce Development
“And there could not be a better time to take action to help more people join our workforce.
“That is why the Farm Bill that we are debating today is so critical.
“It sets up a system for SNAP recipients where, if you are able to work, you should work to get the benefits.
“And if you can’t work, we’ll help you get the training you need. We will help you get the skills you need to get an opportunity.
“This is going to get more people out of poverty. This is going to get more people a steady job. This is going to get more people moving toward a good career.
“It will help people go from where they are to where they want to be, to realize their own version of the American Idea.
“I am very pleased that we are moving forward with this phase of the ‘Better Way’ agenda.
“If you recall, when we ran on this in 2016, this was a core component of what we told the country we would do if given the opportunity.
“Well, here we are.”
Continuing to Deliver on the Better Way Agenda
“Another part of that agenda also calls for helping our veterans, and yesterday the House took a big, bipartisan step to improve healthcare at the VA.
“The House took a big, bipartisan vote to toughen penalties for those who intentionally target law enforcement officers as well—this being Police Week.
“Today, the Energy and Commerce Committee has its final markup on legislation to crack down on the opioid crisis in America.
“And we will soon move forward on financial services reforms that will help small businesses get better access to loans and capital.
“So it is good to see the country feeling better.
“It is good to see the country feeling better about how things are going. And it’s good to see confidence and optimism coming back.
“And it’s very good for us to be making progress on these things that matter most in people’s lives, which is why we are here.”
This week, Speaker Ryan joined Fox News Radio’s Benson & Harf for a wide-ranging interview on everything from the Farm Bill, to the Democrats’ promise to repeal the tax law, and the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Watch their conversation here and check out excerpts below.
On the Farm Bill:
Speaker Ryan: “We are well on our way to executing our agenda…We’ve passed well over 500 bills here in the House, the fastest pace in about four presidents, since the President has taken the oath and we’ve been in the majority here…At the end of our agenda was working on people. Getting people from welfare to work, working on skills, closing the skills gap, closing the opportunity gap. So what does that mean? We have on the floor this week our welfare reform, and our workforce development reforms…We’re saying for able-bodied people on food stamps, there’s going to be a work requirement. We think that’s really important. We think it gets people from welfare to work, and a job training requirement. We’re also doing career [and] technical education reform, we’re doing prison reform. We’ve passed one major infrastructure bill, which is a part of the Trump agenda that’s out of the House. Another one’s coming down the pike, not to mention appropriations, and many other regulatory relief issues. Our Dodd-Frank Bill is going to be moving to the House in about a week, which is repealing and replacing Dodd-Frank. So we are well on our way in executing our agenda, and we’ve got plenty more that we’re going to be doing in the weeks and months ahead.”
On Tax Reform:
Guy Benson: “I think the crown jewel, you could argue, of that agenda, at least the successes so far, is tax reform.”
Speaker Ryan: “Absolutely, because look at the economy that it is helping produce…It’s really turning out economic growth in jobs, which makes it easier to do welfare reform, to pull able-bodied people who are on welfare off of the sidelines, into the work force. So it puts us into a virtuous cycle where we want to get people on the sidelines back in the work force, and that’s why we’re now moving with our work force development agenda.”
Guy Benson: “You’ve got Nancy Pelosi saying that if the Democrats win, she wants to repeal or roll back tax reform. You’ve been talking about making the middle-class tax cuts permanent. Is that going to happen?”
Speaker Ryan: “We’re working on the timing with it, but that is something that we obviously intend on doing. That’s something that we think most people want, and that is something that we will be bringing through here in the House.”
Speaker Ryan: “Obviously, I’m for the embassy. We voted for this years ago, on a bipartisan basis. Hamas is a terrorist organization. Hamas is pushing people through the border. And so any sovereign country obviously has a right to defend its own border when people are, when there are incursions occurring across the border. These civilian casualties, loss of life, it’s very regrettable, but clearly Israel has a right to defend its border against these incursions, and, yes, I would put the blame on Hamas, as well, because Hamas is the one who’s responsible for trying to push people in and through the border, into conflict. If Hamas didn’t do that, you wouldn’t have the conflict. Israel has a right to defend its own borders, like any sovereign country.”
Washington—Upon passage of the bipartisan VA MISSION Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the following statement:
“It is a good day for America’s veterans. This is another critical step in fulfilling our promise to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs. With these reforms to vital care services, we are returning the VA to its core mission. Importantly, the Veterans Choice Program will remain funded while a streamlined community care program is established, because no veteran should be without access to quality care.
“Our veterans represent the best of our country, and while nothing can measure up to their sacrifice, we owe them the absolute best care we have to offer. Chairman Roe and all the members of the Veterans' Affairs Committee should be proud of the work they have put in to bring real change for those who have served, and I commend their commitment to our nation’s heroes.”
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivered the following remarks on the House floor today in honor of National Police Week:
My colleagues: I rise today to welcome all the law enforcement officers and their families who have come to Washington in honor of National Police Week.
There is a saying in the law enforcement community: “In this family, nobody fights alone.”
When an officer goes down, the whole force feels the loss and carries the burden. It is so moving to see that spirit of solidarity on display this week.
This year, the names of 360 fallen officers have been added to our National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial--including four from the state of Wisconsin.
One of them is Detective Jason Weiland of the Everest Metropolitan Police Department. He was shot and killed in the line of duty last March.
His daughter Anna, 10 years old, spoke at his memorial service. She said, “All of the amazing people in the world will always outnumber the criminals.”
Those words resonated so much that Anna’s teacher helped her start a group called “Be Amazing.” They honor her dad’s memory by doing community service projects.
Now how inspiring is that?
Another Wisconsin story I want to share is that of Officer Brian Murphy of the Ashwaubenon Police Department.
Last July, Officer Murphy was hit by a drunk driver on Interstate 41. He sustained a number of life-threatening injuries.
Yet just weeks later, he left the hospital able to stand on his own, surrounded by his family and fellow officers. It won’t surprise you to hear that he is back on the job.
This week, Officer Murphy said the decision to return to work was not difficult at all. It’s about a “good sense of purpose,” he said.
We have seen this resilience and devotion to duty right here in the Capitol. I don’t think I will ever tire of seeing of Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner back at their posts.
As Speaker, I have had the chance to work closely with the dedicated professionals of the Capitol Police. It has been an incredible honor, it truly has.
My colleagues, I know this is a challenging time for law enforcement.
If there is one thing I’ve come to recognize, it is that we must not take any of this for granted--whether it’s the dangers that the men and women who wear the badge face. . .or the sacrifices that their families make, all the long nights and holidays that they don’t get to spend together.
We must not take any of it for granted. It is where our safety comes from every day.
We should consider it a privilege to serve those who serve and protect us.
To all the cops on the beat, and to your loved ones: you do not fight alone.
We are with you, and behind you, always.
Thank you, and God bless you.
Summary: Today, Speaker Ryan discussed why now—in an economy rich with opportunities—is the right time for the House to be moving forward with the Farm Bill, including important reforms to better equip our workforce.
“Well it is certainly a good time to be a worker, or a job seeker, in America today.
“You just heard some of the statistics. This economy is thriving. Business optimism and consumer confidence are at all-time highs.
“Tax reform has helped fuel more jobs, bigger paychecks, and better benefits.
“Retail sales are up, too.
“And I can’t say this enough: Our unemployment rate is below 4 percent for the first time in [nearly] 20 years.
“In fact, right now, we have one open job for nearly every unemployed person in this country.
“We have employers who can’t keep up with incoming business because they don’t have enough qualified workers.
“We’ve built an economy full of opportunities—now we need to connect people with those opportunities so that they can make the most of their lives.
“That’s what Chairman Conaway is talking about: Closing the skills gap, closing the opportunity gap, so everyone can get their version of the American Idea.
“That is one of the reasons why this farm bill is just so critical.
“In addition to helping our farmers, this bill includes important workforce development reforms, attaching work requirements to help get people out of poverty and on to the ladder of opportunity.
“It will reinvest savings into education and training programs that help develop those skills that closes that opportunity gap.
“It sets up a system where SNAP recipients who are able to go to work, can work. And if they can’t, they will be guaranteed training that they need.
“With these reforms, we are focusing on empowering people. We are focusing on empowering people so that more people have the chance to realize their piece of the American Idea.
“So I want to thank Chairman Conaway and the members of the Agriculture Committee.
“This is a critical pillar of our Better Way agenda that we talked about, that we campaigned on, that we believe in. It’s a priority for this unified government.
“And it’s yet another promise we are committed to fulfilling to help working families get ahead.
“Finally, I’d like to declare something that is just so obvious: It is ‘Laurel’ and not ‘Yanny.’ Alright? Come on. How many ‘Laurel’ fans here? Right? Thank you.”
WASHINGTON–House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today released the following statement after all parties settled in the case United States House of Representatives v. Alex M. Azar II, et al. This suit, originally known as House v. Burwell, was initiated to challenge the Obama administration’s action to spend money without a House appropriation. The settlement today at the DC Court of Appeals preserves a lower court ruling that found the executive branch did not have the authority to make the payments.
“In a battle over the separation of powers, the House has prevailed. When former Speaker John Boehner initiated this suit, it was to protect one of the House’s most primary authorities: the power to spend. Fighting for a successful conclusion has been an important priority for my speakership, and the result today preserves that only Congress, not the executive, can authorize spending. This is a historic outcome that leaves this institution stronger."
H-232 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
The Speaker acts as leader of the House and combines several roles: the institutional role of presiding officer and administrative head of the House, the partisan role of leader of the majority party in the House, and the representative role of an elected Member of the House. By statute, the Speaker is also second in line, behind the Vice President, to succeed to the presidency.
The Speaker presides over the House, administering the oath of office to Members, calling the House to order, and preserving order and decorum within the Chamber and in the galleries. Additionally, he appoints the chairmen to preside over the Committee of the Whole, appoints special or select committees, appoints conference committees, has the power of recognition of Members to speak, and makes many important rulings and decisions in the House. The Speaker may vote, but usually does not, except in the case of a tie. The Speaker and the Majority Leader determine the legislative agenda for the House, and often confer with the President and the Senate.