By John Celock
WASHINGTON – A Republican congressman from New Jersey is crediting new House Speaker Paul Ryan’s background as a committee chairman as key for the legislative progress Congress has made since the Wisconsin took over in late October.
U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) said that the key to Ryan’s success has been his tenure in the House committee structure, rather than coming out of the leadership structure that has been traditional for speakers. Since taking over for former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Ryan has been credited for leading the House to pass several large scale pieces of legislation including a new transportation spending bill and a omnibus bill that funds the government for the coming year.
“He comes out of the committee structure,” Lance told The Celock Report. “He is interested in having legislation reach the House floor through the committee process.”
Ryan served as chairman of the House Budget Committee for four years before serving as Ways and Means Committee chairman for most of 2015 before assuming the speakership. Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, was a compromise pick for the speaker’s chair after the candidacy of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) collapsed following opposition from the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
Ryan’s immediate predecessors from both parties came to the speakership after time in other leadership posts. Boehner had served as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee between stints in the House GOP leadership before becoming speaker.
Since taking over from Boehner, who stepped down amid opposition from the Freedom Caucus, Ryan has overhauled House procedures, including changing the composition of the powerful GOP Steering Committee. Under the leadership overhaul, Ryan replaced several committee chairmen on the panel and structured the panel for more backbench members. Among the new members of the steering committee is U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), a frequent Boehner critic, who was removed from the House Agriculture Committee for his opposition to the former speaker.
Lance noted that he expects to see more legislative movement under Ryan and that the new speaker has been encouraging the committees to move legislation to the floor. Boehner was noted for trying to move legislation to the floor from the leadership structure rather than from the committees.
“I am pleased the new speaker is using the committee process rather than the heavy hand of leadership,” he said.