Influential Rep. Paul Ryan, in the latest demonstration of distrust between the GOP and President Obama, said that broad immigration reform is dead because Republicans have "no confidence or faith" that the president will do as Congress orders on the U.S.-Mexico border. "There is just no confidence or faith that the president will faithfully discharge his duties in executing and implementing the laws as written by Congress at this time," said Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee and current budget committee chairman.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sat down with the Washington Examiner this week, and was asked about whether his party needs to present an alternative to the Affordable Care Act. "I do believe it's our obligation to articulate what we would replace Obamacare with and what the health care system would look like under our reforms," the congressman replied.
So where is the GOP plan? House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said late last week the proposal is "not there yet."
No rush, guys. Republicans have only been working on it for five years.
Of course, the public has also been waiting for House GOP lawmakers to present their immigration-reform plan, which has been equally elusive. In the same interview, Ryan rolled out his excuse for inaction.
The Washington Examiner's report added that Ryan believes there's "no chance that broad [immigration] reform, like the type he supports or that already passed by the Democrat-controlled Senate, will ever see the light of day."
Obviously, we already knew that House Republicans killed comprehensive immigration reform, so Ryan's comments on legislative prospects hardly come as a shock, though it certainly sends signals to the White House that unilateral action from President Obama is now the only way forward.
It also raises questions anew about why Republicans won't consider the Senate Democratic offer to pass immigration reform now, to be implemented in 2017.
But I'm struck by the scope of Ryan's bizarre excuse for doing nothing.
Look at that quote again: "There is just no confidence or faith that the president will faithfully discharge his duties in executing and implementing the laws as written by Congress at this time." These are the words of one of the most prominent Republicans on Capitol Hill -- a man who was on his party's national ticket less than two years ago.
It's extraordinary, in a way, to think that a congressional leader is willing to say out loud that his party is convinced the sitting, two-term president of the United States is quite literally lawless.
To be sure, I'm reasonably confident that Paul Ryan don't actually believe such obvious nonsense. But let's say he's sincere. For the sake of conversation, let's assume the far-right Wisconsinite genuinely believes President Obama will no longer faithfully execute the nation's laws.
I suppose my follow-up question is, "Then why do you show up for work?"
Think about it: if a tyrannical president has declared himself a dictator, and has given up on "faithfully discharging his duties in executing and implementing the laws as written by Congress," effectively marking the end of our constitutional system of government, why would any lawmaker bother to vote on legislation at all? Under this truly unhinged understanding of current events, even if Obama signs bills into law, he'll just ignore them anyway, right?
By this reasoning, why would Congress ever send Obama any bill on any issue, ever?
Or more to the point, if Ryan and his allies believe the president has abandoned our constitutional system of government, and no longer "faithfully discharge his duties in executing and implementing the laws as written by Congress," how in the world does the House majority sit idly by and do nothing except complain?
The answer, of course, is that Ryan and his allies doesn't actually believe this at all. They're looking for an excuse to justify their failure on immigration reform, and this is the best they've come up with.