Republicans showed Thursday they were willing to give Paul D. Ryan a chance when they overwhelmingly elected him the 54th Speaker of the House.
Democrats are also showing signs of enthusiasm for the Wisconsin Republican's promotion. Appropriations Ranking Member Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., told CQ Roll Call shortly after Ryan's swearing-in ceremony she had "enormous respect" for the incoming speaker, with whom she said she grew close following a congressional delegation trip to Saudi Arabia nearly a decade ago.
"He calls me, 'Mom,' and I call him 'Sonny Boy,'" Lowey, 78, said of Ryan, 33 years her junior. "I just wished him luck and I look forward to working with him. He's extremely bright, he's very caring, and I do hope that we can have good bipartisan work with his leadership."
Though everyone has some stake in Ryan living up his promises to usher in a more inclusive and efficient legislative era, Lowey is especially affected by whether Ryan succeeds or fails.
One of Ryan's biggest selling points to colleagues was that he would restore "regular order" to the appropriations process, allowing bills to move through committees and be considered on the floor at a faster clip. That would theoretically pave the way for a conference with the Senate to resolve each of the 12 annual spending bills.
Lowey said she was hopeful Ryan would deliver. With passage of a budget deal this week, there won't be the same fights over spending levels that have plagued the process this cycle. Policy riders, however, provide a different sort of challenge.
"Let us hope we can talk through these, because we now have an appropriations process for the next two years, and the riders, as you say, will be a challenge, but I hope that he's a strong leader and can talk through most controversial riders with his members" Lowey said. "I am cautiously optimistic."
Lowey added she and other Democratic appropriators were already getting to work on the 12-bill appropriations package — known as an omnibus — that must be passed by Dec. 11. A House GOP appropriations aide said members and staff were already moving "full steam ahead" to meet the deadline.
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