By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Politcal Reporter
The Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) is taking the offensive to defend his bipartisan Omnibus legislation which keeps the US government funded until the end of September. Ryan also defended his expansion of the controversial H2B visa program, which Senator Jeff Sessions criticized in a statement on December 18.
On Monday, December 21, Speaker Ryan (R-WI) called in to The Hugh Hewitt Show to discuss how the House is advancing Republican priorities, like passing legislation to lift the oil export ban, strengthen our national security, rein in the IRS, and provide tax relief for small businesses and families.
Speaker Ryan said that there were a lot of conservative wins in the spending bill. Ryan said, “We got the military funding done the way we wanted it to get done, which was our highest priority. We got pro-life riders, we got the oil export ban lifted permanently—something we’ve been trying to do for decades. We got permanent tax relief for families and small businesses. We put a stop on the IRS and their ability to use the IRS as a political weapon and meddle in campaigns like they did in 2012. I can go on and on. We didn’t get every win we wanted—there are wins we’re still looking for, say Planned Parenthood. We got that in our reconciliation bill—which the Senate can’t filibuster—we’re gonna have that vote when we return from Christmas break. The Senate’s gonna be taking up Syrian refugee legislation, which we sent over to the Senate. So we’re advancing on all of the things that we believe in. I don’t think an omnibus is a good approach, which is why passing this omnibus helps us get back to what we call regular order, where we are considering these spending bills individually, on their own merit, one at a time next yea, and that is the kind of system that we ought to have.”
On the H2B visa provision, Ryan said, “There’s one provision that I think has been so misconstrued…which is the H2B visa program. This is a very small provision that was passed in the Homeland Security Appropriations bill last July. It received unanimous Republican votes in the committee. It’s been sitting out there in the light of day since July, and according to the Congressional Budget Office, it would result in less than 10,000 temporary workers coming to America next year. For those industries that have work shortages like certain industries that are seasonal, seafood processing in Chesapeake Bay, seafood processing industry in Maine, the tourism industry in northern states or the nursing industry in northern states. These are businesses last year that couldn’t find American workers, and wanted to bring the returning workers who are seasonal back so that their businesses didn’t shut down…When you see the dust settled, when you see that the misinformation leveled with the facts, we got the oil export ban, we got the military what they needed…we got our pro-life riders. We got a lot of good conservative wins—not nearly as many as we wanted—but we got some good conservative wins, and we’re going to pick up and start where we left off next year to keep going.”
On Tuesday, December 22, Breitbart’s Julia Hahn reported that Ryan in a Tuesday morning interview with radio host Bill Bennett repeated that “misinformation” claim about the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package. When Bennett asked Ryan about the expansion of the H-2B visa program, Speaker Ryan said, “There has been so much hyperbole about this one provision pinging around the Internet, but that’s the problem with omnibus appropriations. Big legislation leads to lots of confusion, lots of misinformation. It doesn’t quadruple the program. It doesn’t allow hundreds of thousands of people from Muslim countries into the country.”
Alabama Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby both opposed the Omnibus legislation.
Sen. Sessions said on Friday, “First, the number of H-2B workers is nowhere near 8,000. The existing H-2B cap is already 66,000. But the omnibus bill eliminates even the 66,000 cap by declaring that three years’ worth of prior workers will not be counted against the cap – or adding another 66,000 times three – for a new cap of 264,000 low-wage workers. Secondly, it is not ‘making a mountain out of molehill,’ to try to save the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of loyal Americans from this influx of low-wage foreign labor.”
Sessions said, “The House’s inclusion of the H-2B increase underscores that the growing divide between voters and party elites is not simply over means, but ends. Blithely dismissing the just concerns of the great majority of American voters, and especially Republican voters, is not a wise course for the Republican Speaker.”
Senator Richard Shelby said on Wednesday, December 15, “While I support the inclusion of several conservative priorities and key provisions critical to Alabama in this year’s omnibus bill, I oppose the overall bill because it gives a blank check to President Obama to continue his dangerous Syrian refugee resettlement plan. During this increasingly uncertain time in our nation, we simply cannot allow the President – who is more focused on gun control and climate change than national security – to unilaterally determine who can enter our country.”
Sen. Shelby continued, “This omnibus bill puts the United States on a path towards admitting an unknown number of potentially dangerous migrants who we cannot appropriately vet. President Obama’s lack of strategy on how to combat ISIS coupled with his failure to secure our borders underscores the critical need for Congress to stop him in his tracks. Unfortunately, this bill fails to properly halt the President’s reckless proposals and prioritize the safety of the American people.”
Sen. Sessions wrote, “It is well-established that the omnibus fully-funds the President’s entire refugee expansion, illegal alien resettlement, executive amnesty, sanctuary cities, and illegal alien tax credits. But the problem is not only that there was no effort to protect American jobs, wages and communities from uncontrolled immigration – but that voters believe Congress has no desire to ever protect Americans from uncontrolled immigration.”
Sen. Sessions said, “If Congress wants to get serious about representing its voters, and winning their trust, it should be begin by moving legislation next year to both end illegal immigration and reduce immigration visas. Congress should defend the citizens of this country with the same passion as the President defends the citizens of other countries.”
Representative Paul Ryan was elevated to Speaker of the US House of Representatives after former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his resignation from Congress at the end of October. Ryan was the Republican nominee for Vice-President in the 2012 election.