On the side
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, was among 15 House Republicans selected to serve as vice chairmen for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Johnson, who heads the Regional Committee, is the only Ohioan chosen as a vice chairman by NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers, a congressman from Columbus. The appointment is another signal of Johnson’s growing influence among his colleagues. Johnson, whose district includes all of Columbiana County and southern Mahoning County, was an early supporter of Donald Trump.
Republican Mark Munroe and Democrat Bob Wasko will serve four-year terms on the Mahoning County Board of Elections. The executive committee members of the county Republican and Democratic parties met last week to re-elect the two to their seats on the board.
When U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan lost his bid to be House minority leader there was concern that Nancy Pelosi, who retained the seat, would punish him for the challenge.
House Democrats voted 134 to 63 to re-elect Pelosi on Nov. 30 over Ryan.
At the time, Ryan said, “Having 63 people vote for me will make it very, very difficult for her to have any retribution at all. A lot of people would be very, very offended by that because whether or not they voted for me, there were a lot of people who wanted to have the conversation that I forced us to have” about the party’s direction.
The biggest concern was that Pelosi, who’s exacted revenge against those who’ve challenged her authority, would take away Ryan’s seat on the House Appropriations Committee.
The committee controls the national government’s purse strings and a seat on it is seen as being important as members can provide benefits to others in the House, usually in exchange for a favor in return.
Years ago, during the era of earmarks, having a seat on Appropriations meant millions of dollars for projects in the home districts of members.
It’s still one of the most powerful committees in Congress.
Rather than be punished, Ryan ended up getting promoted.
Ryan is the ranking Democrat on the committee’s Legislative Branch Subcommittee.
It’s one of only 12 Appropriations’ subcommittees, and puts Ryan in a leadership position on the prestigious committee.
If Democrats are somehow able to capture the House in the 2018 election, his position becomes even more influential.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves for now as Democrats have been in the minority since 2011.
Ryan’s subcommittee oversees the spending of the Capitol police, the Library of Congress, the Government Accountability Office and is where members go for office furniture and parking spaces.
It may not sound all that important, but to members of Congress new couches or a better parking spot can be pretty high priorities.
It puts Ryan in a position to trade. He’s not going to get $1 million for a new project in the Mahoning Valley for it, but it puts him at the table to discuss such proposals.
Also, Ryan is remaining on the Defense Subcommittee and is its third-most senior Democrat.
That puts him in a strong position to help secure the viability of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna, one of the area’s largest employers.
It also could eventually help bring new aircrafts to the facility to replace the outdated C-130Hs the station has been using for years.
Ryan also joined the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, which also helps the airbase as it oversees spending on military construction projections, and base realignments and closures.
He gave up his seat on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee.
It was just last week I wrote that Politico’s Playbook, a highly-influential online national politics newsletter, listed Ryan with two other younger Democratic congressmen on its “30 most powerful people and groups” in Washington.
They wrote: “This trio of lawmakers will help House Democrats chart a course forward and figure out who will lead them when the current leadership departs.”
Ryan remains coy about a 2018 gubernatorial bid saying he’s still thinking about it.
But it seems with his stock and seniority rising among his colleagues in the House that Ryan can have a real impact there.