In his first act as incoming Speaker, Ryan signed a deal that was secretly negotiated by outgoing Speaker John Boehner. A key provision of that deal was to surrender Congress’s authority to “borrow money on the credit of the United States” for the remainder of President Obama’s term as President. To confirm this budget deal, Ryan had to violate the so-called Hastert rule, in which Republican leaders repeatedly promised not to advance legislation that most Republicans oppose. Two-thirds of Republicans in both Houses opposed the Boehner-Obama budget deal, yet the new leadership allowed it to become law with mostly Democratic votes.
Despite strong Republican majorities sent to both Houses by the voters in last year’s election, the new Congress has surrendered its basic powers over foreign trade, war and peace, immigration and naturalization, confirmation of judges, and the regulation of federal courts.
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