Tim Ryan, the Mahoning Valley’s congressman, contends that if he succeeds in taking control of the House Democratic Caucus, the region will benefit many times more than it now does by virtue of his being a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee.
Ryan is correct that being minority leader in the House would make him one of the most influential Democrats on Capitol Hill.
But what if the Howland resident who represents Ohio’s 13th District fails in his bid to oust Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, D-12th, whose political power in Congress is well established?
At a news conference last week, Ryan was asked if he is concerned about Pelosi retaliating by stripping him of his Appropriations Committee membership if he fails in his bid to oust her.
Ryan replied that retribution would be “unprecedented” because what is occurring is an internal assessment of the Democratic Party’s political fortunes in light of its stunning defeat in the Nov. 8 presidential election and losses suffered in congressional and state legislative races.
Although Ryan insists that a growing number of Democrats in the House support his campaign for minority leader, Pelosi believes she has the support of about two-thirds of the 188 members who make up the Democratic caucus.
While such interparty battles grab national headlines, Mahoning Valley residents are left to wonder what will happen if Ryan fails to wrest power away from Pelosi.
To be sure, Ryan has earned a reputation in Congress as a fighter for this region and for the Democratic Party’s principles and has established strong ties with Pelosi.
However, by challenging her for the leadership position, he may well have undermined that relationship.
Elaborating on what his elevation would mean to the Mahoning Valley, Ryan told The Vindicator:
“It would be like I’m doing now, times 10 maybe. I’d be involved in every decision that’s made, and if we can win the House back, then I’d be speaker of the House instead of minority leader and that would have a significant impact.”
A CHALLENGING GOAL
Democrats would have to win about 30 to 40 seats to take control of the House, Ryan said. He acknowledged that achieving such a goal would be a challenge.
Therein lies our concern about the congressman’s challenge of Pelosi.
In our endorsement of Ryan – he won re-election by a wide margin – we said this:
“For Ryan, his membership on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which controls the expenditure of money by the federal government, and the Budget Committee, which has oversight of the federal budget process, has been a boon for this region. The congressman has been successful in funneling hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 14 years.
“The 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill contained $12.7 million for area military bases, including the economically important Youngstown Air Reserve Station; $10 million for a Youngstown-Dayton military additive manufacturing program; and $5 million for reservoirs.
“In 2015, the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund made available $13 million to 12 land banks in Ohio, with Mahoning, Trumbull and Stark counties each receiving $500,000.”
We were looking forward to Ryan’s continued presence on the committee that regulates the expenditure of federal dollars because of the economic uncertainties confronting the Mahoning Valley.
In January, more than 1,200 employees of the General Motors Lordstown assembly plant will lose their jobs when the third shift is eliminated.
GM has said that demand for the Chevrolet Cruze that’s built at Lords- town has declined because the low cost of fuel has made trucks and SUVs more popular than compact cars.
We are also concerned about the future of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna Township because the eight C-130H transport planes stationed there need to be retrofitted or replaced with a newer model. A massive expenditure of federal money is required to upgrade and, perhaps, expand the fleet of airplanes.
With Ryan on the appropriations and budget committees, the region will be protected. But if he loses that position, the Valley could be in for some tough times.
We hope that the congressman is right when he says that his challenge of Pelosi will not result in his being ostracized by the leadership of the Democratic caucus.