Ryan Horse-Traded Away Immigration Reform for Speakership

By: Meredith Kelly


Paul Ryan navigated his way to the Speakership, despite the threat of opposition from the entrenched, extreme House Freedom Caucus, by drawing some inspiration from his party’s now-standard bearer, Donald Trump. Taking a page out of the master negotiator’s book, Ryan smoothed over relations with the HFC – and his path to 218 – by granting the fringe group his first known promise as Speaker. And true to Trump’s anti-immigrant demagoguery, Ryan closed the deal with HFC by horse-trading away immigration reform, pledging to the group that he would abandon efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform.


Headline: National Review: “Paul Ryan Pledges: No Immigration Reform Under Obama.” [National Review, 10/27/15]

Headline: Huntsville Times: “Mo Brooks, Freedom Caucus strike hardline immigration deal with Paul Ryan.” [Huntsville Times, 10/27/15]

Ryan’s First Known Promise As Speaker Was To Abandon Efforts To Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform. “In his bid to be voted Speaker of the House, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan has made concessions on immigration policy to satisfy a conservative wing of House Republicans, according to U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks. . . . It’s the first known promise Ryan has made in his effort to win the top position in the House of Representatives. And the deal on immigration may help pave support for Ryan with House conservatives beyond the Freedom Caucus.” [Huntsville Times, 10/27/15]

Ryan Signed Off On Letter Promising House Freedom Caucus He Would Not Bring Immigration Reform Legislation To Floor While Obama Was President. “Paul Ryan has signed off on a letter promising restless members of the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) that he won’t bring immigration-reform legislation to the House floor while President Obama remains in office. The letter, obtained exclusively by National Review, formalizes pledges that Ryan made last week in a closed-door meeting with select members of the HFC who were skeptical of his promise to maintain an ‘open’ and ‘inclusive’ relationship with the caucus. Specifically, it extracts Ryan’s word that he will not bring up comprehensive immigration reform ‘so long as Barack Obama is president’ and, as speaker, Ryan will not allow any immigration bill to reach the floor for a vote unless a ‘majority’ of GOP members support it.” [National Review, 10/27/15]

Headline: Sacramento Bee Editorial: “Paul Ryan caves on immigration as he becomes House speaker.” [Editorial, Sacramento Bee, 11/3/15]

Sacramento Bee Editorial: “One Of [Ryan’s] First Acts Of Leadership Was To Cede Immigration Policy” To Freedom Caucus Members. “Ryan, who once claimed to support an immigration overhaul, promised to forgo immigration legislation until Obama leaves office in order to win conservative support to become speaker. In other words, one of his first acts of leadership was to cede immigration policy to the likes of Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican and member of the so-called Freedom Caucus. Brooks, who has held elective office off and on since 1982, won his congressional seat in the Republican wave of 2010, and makes illegal immigration one of his signature issues.” [Editorial, Sacramento Bee, 11/3/15]

Headline: USA Today Editorial: “Ryan walls off immigration reform.” [Editorial, USA Today, 11/3/15]

USA Today Editorial: Ryan “Made A Pact With The House’s Rejectionist Wing” On Immigration, Enabling Trump-Style Rhetoric. “Ryan apparently felt he couldn’t get elected speaker unless he made a pact with the House’s rejectionist wing. And when one of your party’s leading presidential candidates offers impractical fixes and calls Mexican immigrants ‘rapists,’ it would take unusual courage to stand up for a better way. No matter what excuse Ryan gives, though, this is the view that he enables by putting immigration reform off-limits. It is unworthy of someone who claims to want to lead one of the government’s most dysfunctional institutions in a new and better direction.” [Editorial, USA Today, 11/3/15]