Conservatives blame Paul Ryan for not blocking Syrian refugees, because that’s how this works now

Paul Ryan is still unpacking boxes in the Speakers office, and he’s already learning just how horrible and impossible his job is going to be.

Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, just went crying to Breitbart that “conservative House members have received no commitment from Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) that he would in any way try to curb the nation’s importation of Muslims on visas.”

This led Governor Mike “Wake Up and Smell the Falafel” Huckabee to call Ryan out on Twitter for failing to “lead” with the appropriate amount of that’s-not-how-American-government-is-supposed-to-work:

The United States has already committed to accepting 85,000 Syrian refugees next year and 100,000 in 2017, but the actual funding that would be required in order to house them has to be approved by Congress as part of the recent Boehner-Obama budget deal. The House Freedom Caucus opposes the deal, while Ryan said he didn’t like how it was put together, but voted for it anyway (he did, after all, work on it). Following the attacks, conservatives in Congress want to hold up the deal over its necessary allocation of funds to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, calling on Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to strip those funds before it heads to the president’s desk. President Obama would almost certainly veto such a bill.

If I’m understanding this correctly, congressional conservatives are essentially demanding that Paul Ryan shut down the government over their dictionary-definition Islamophobia.

Paul Ryan, via Mel Brown /

Paul Ryan, via Mel Brown /

I don’t expect Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell to blow up an otherwise-favorable deal and risk shutting down the government over a policy that wouldn’t actually keep Americans safer. Then again, who knows? The House Freedom Caucus is notoriously good at getting what they want, and moving the House Republicans as a whole farther and farther right. What’s more, these guys aren’t even the national security hawks in the GOP — that honor goes to otherwise-less-conservative members such as Rep. Peter King (R-NY). So it isn’t too hard to believe that their effort will pick up support as more and more Republicans hop on the closed borders bandwagon.

Either way, this underscores just how impossible Paul Ryan’s job as Speaker is in the long term. There is no way he can hold his caucus together if every pet issue — every dollar of feigned outrage — becomes grounds for halting the basic functions of government. But that’s where we are, and that’s where we’re likely to be for a very long time.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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