Paul Ryan Celebrates 'Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity' of Total GOP Control
Republicans lawmakers said they were "beside themselves" with excitement over their unparalleled new power to enact the party's regressive agenda
Updated 3:15pm EDT:
Hammering home the Republican Party's current mood, in an address to Congress after he was re-elected to Speaker of the House on Tuesday, Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) gloated over the GOP majority, saying: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is the kind of thing that most of us have only dreamed about. I know, because I used to dream about this a lot."
"Now. Today. This Congress," Ryan continued. "Let us not be timid, but rather reach for that brighter horizon and deliver."
As the official swearing-in ceremony for the 115th Congress was underway on Tuesday, Republicans lawmakers and pundits said they were "beside themselves" with excitement over their unparalleled new power to enact the party's regressive agenda—making it clear they are willing to play dirty every step of the way.
"It is bare knuckles time for GOP in Congress," Milwaukee Country, Wisconsin's controversial Sheriff David Clarke tweeted late Monday. "Punch [Minority leader Sen. Chuck] Schumer in the mouth metaphorically, let him taste his own blood," Clarke added.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told The Hill that his "Republican colleagues were 'almost giddy' about the new session that's beginning," and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) similarly told a local radio station that GOP lawmakers are "beside ourselves" with excitement.
Cole said that President-elect Donald Trump has "really reached out to Congress in the transition...We know if we can get things to the president's desk that they'll be signed."
Cheering the lawmakers on from the sidelines are the hordes of conservative pundits, like radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, who encouraged Republicans on Tuesday to "Go Big. Go Far. Go Fast."
Hewitt wrote that the Congressional GOP "needs to embrace a Hamiltonian vision of big 'internal improvements,'" which includes "infrastructure investments," such as "a sweeping immigration overhaul centered on the long, strong, double-sided fence, a 350 ship Navy and resupplied [U.S. Marine Corps], and massive tax and entitlement reform."
"And it must do so all at once," Hewitt advocated. "As part of one big, early package of bills. Of course repealing Obamacare is part of that package, but the more moving parts—the more carrots and sticks—on the table, the more the new unified GOP government can make it happen at a dizzying pace."
In a column entitled, "Today the GOP begins taking back America," conservative pundit Erick Erickson similarly wrote at Fox News on Tuesday:
Today, on January 3, the GOP can begin rolling [Obamacare] back. The GOP can begin rolling back Dodd-Frank. The GOP can begin rolling back Lilly-Ledbetter. The GOP can begin defunding Planned Parenthood. The GOP can begin setting up another generation of conservative leadership on the United States Supreme Court.
...Make no mistake, there will be claims of "overreach." Anything the GOP does will be attributed to overreach. But the GOP promised to repeal ObamaCare. It must. The GOP promised to protect coal miners and the energy sector. It must. The GOP promised to free up the states to be engines of innovation. It must. The GOP must seize now on its gains.
Republicans launched the new year with the late Monday vote to "neutralize and reconfigure the Office of Congressional Ethics by stripping its independent authority and making it subservient to the very members of congress it was designed to oversee," Common Dreams reported.
House leaders walked back on that decision Tuesday after it received widespread criticism (including from the president-elect), but many saw the effort as a telling first shot.
Mark Sumner, editor of the "Devilstower" column on Daily Kos, observed Tuesday, "Before this Congress gets around to writing legislation, item number one is destroying any oversight."
"It's a move that should remind everyone that the actions of the Republicans in the State Legislature of North Carolina weren't an aberration," he added, referring to recent anti-democratic actions taken by the state's GOP-led General Assembly, including the refusal to repeal the anti-LGBTQ HB2.
"When Republicans say that they have a 'mandate,'" Sumner continued, "this is what they mean—a mandate to reshape the course of government, and governing. While Democrats are debating if adopting a position of opposition is really a good strategy, Republicans are working to remove any means of opposition."
Indeed, Republicans have already mapped out how they can push through large swathes of their agenda, namely tax reform and rolling back countless regulations, without any bipartisan support.
The Hill reports:
Republicans could try to go it alone on tax reform, though they would have a narrow window to get the measure through the Senate. GOP lawmakers are signaling they will use reconciliation, a procedural shortcut allowing them to clear legislation with only 50 votes, to overhaul the tax code.
House and Senate Republicans have also identified regulations Trump could roll back on day one without help from Congress, as well as rules from President Obama that they could reverse legislatively.
"There are procedural means by which we can basically repeal those regulations, going back to last summer, using something called the Congressional Review Act, so you'll see a lot of action there," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said during a conference call with local reporters.
Commenting on the coming legislative onslaught, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore wrote on Facebook Tuesday that "it will happen so fast, your head may spin."
They can't get actual laws enacted until they have a President who can sign them. That's 17 days away. But what they CAN do is shake up the Congressional committees and change the Congressional rules. The can eliminate Congressional governmental watchdogs and redirect Congressional spending. They can do all that and more, and they won't waste a minute doing it. Unlike our side, which operates with a Kumbaya/"Can't-we-all-get-along"/wimp-induced mentality, the Republicans are already sitting on their Panzer tanks ready to steamroll themselves through the floors of the Senate and House which they both control.
"Are you awake? Are you ready to fight?" Moore asked. "Congress must understand TODAY that they are going to have a force of tens of millions—the MAJORITY—to reckon with. That onslaught of citizen revolt starts as soon as you see the period at the end of this sentence."