The honeymoon seems to be over already for new House Speaker Paul Ryan after Congress passed his nearly $2 trillion spending bill, but he isn't backing down in the face of conservative outcry about the agreement.
Conservative activists, angry with several aspects of the spending bill, are already mounting a primary challenge against Ryan, reports The Washington Times
, just months after he was overwhelmingly hailed as the one lawmaker who could unite the House's factions.
Tea party groups and pro-life activists in Ryan's home state feel betrayed by the spending bill, which averted a government shutdown after it neither blocked President Barack Obama's plan to allow at least 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country or defunded Planned Parenthood.
"There is a sympathetic ear to having someone beat him," said James Murphy, founder of the Green Bay Tea Party, one of the groups hunting for a conservative candidate to take on Ryan in the next primary.
Ryan, though, is highly popular in his home district, receiving 94 percent of the vote in the 2014 primary, and Ryan's campaign team says the threats are just talk, reports The Hill
But Ryan's home conservatives aren't the only ones crying out against the speaker, who ironically did not want the seat, but agreed to be nominated after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in line for the seat, backed out after making controversial comments about the House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks.
Breitbart.com, for example, proclaimed that "Paul Ryan Betrays America," reports The Hill, while conservative commentator Ann Coulter said he is ready for a challenge in the primaries.
And even Ryan's new facial hair is under attack from Twitter users, who call it his new "Muslim beard."
He is unfazed, though, appearing on television shows to extol how the funding agreement meets conservative goals, while lifting a 40-year-old federal ban against crude oil export and renewing tax breaks for U.S. businesses.
He also says he inherited the omnibus from former House Speaker John Boehner, but Ryan's critics aren't convinced.
Radio talk show hosts have been pounding Ryan. Laura Ingraham called him a "declared enemy of the Base," said the Hill, and Mark Levin called him "already a disaster," complaining about a provision in the package to increase visas for former workers.
Further, Rush Limbaugh
said the GOP has sold the country "down the river," through the funding bill and other issues.
But in the House itself, the feelings are a little more understanding. While hardliners are disgusted by the measure, and all the Freedom Caucus members voted against it, the same conservatives say the top-line funding levels were set by President Barack Obama's budget deal with Boehner.
"I think most Freedom Caucus members hated the omnibus product but acknowledge that Speaker Ryan could only do so much within the parameters that he had to work with," one caucus leader told The Hill. "But so many grassroots supporters have been disappointed so many times that they can see no difference. Mr. Ryan will need to put real pressure on the Senate in the first quarter of 2016 or any goodwill he has will be gone."
Ryan knows that his own honeymoon is almost over. He's already pledged to hold a vote repealing the much-hated Obamacare law, and that legislation will include the Planned Parenthood defunding measure scrapped during the spending bill's negotiations.
"We didn't get every win we wanted, but the wins we are still looking for, say, Planned Parenthood, we've got that in our reconciliation bill, which the Senate can't filibuster," Ryan told talk show host Hugh Hewitt. "We're going to have that vote when we return from the Christmas break."
But that may not appease conservative activists, the Times reports, as they are also vowing to find primary challengers for all 150 House Republicans who voted for the bill.
"These sellout Republicans have made a huge mistake voting for this on top of the huge surge in public anger at DC politicians that have betrayed their constituents," said William Gheen, president of the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, which opposes illegal immigration.
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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