Pocan blasts Ryan over defense bill, discrimination issue
By Frank Schultz
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Mark Pocan says he usually gets along with his neighboring congressman, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, but Pocan appears to be seeing red about action in the House this week.
Pocan, D-2nd District, issued a news release Thursday that criticized Ryan's actions as speaker and tied Ryan to the Republicans' presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
Pocan accused Ryan of being complicit in the GOP majority's passage of the National Defense Authorization Act that excluded amendments that would have given employment protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
“Paul Ryan had a terrible week this week. His image of inclusion was shattered as he … led his majority to deliver bigoted votes against the LGBT community in America. Apparently, Ryan thinks it's OK to fire someone simply for who they are or who they love. The actions this week show why the GOP majority under the leadership of Ryan and Donald Trump are clearly out of touch with the majority of American people,” Pocan said.
In the first instance, Ryan broke his promise that as speaker he would return to “regular order” and allow full consideration of amendments in floor debate, as the GOP majority prevented a bipartisan amendment from coming to the floor for a vote, Pocan said.
The amendment “would have removed from the bill language allowing some federal contractors to discriminate in hiring practices against LGBT individuals and other groups," Pocan said.
“This bipartisan amendment would have restored President (Barack) Obama's executive order banning anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors,” Pocan said.
Then on the floor Thursday, an amendment to stop contractors from getting government work if they discriminate against LGBT people failed, Pocan said.
Enough votes were secured to pass the amendment, but then “GOP leadership cajoled several of their members to switch their votes to defeat the amendment. In an unprecedented move, House Republican leadership refused to release the names of the individuals who switched their vote,” Pocan claimed.
A GOP leadership aide told The Gazette the actions were entirely in keeping with regular order and no one was forced to change his vote.
Ryan aide Ian Martorana issued a short statement when The Gazette asked him for a response: “Our veterans and troops were prioritized over a political messaging amendment that could have jeopardized the final passage of the appropriations bill.”
Pocan, who is gay, said he has always had a cordial relationship with Ryan, “but when he so easily is willing to see people be discriminated against and fired simply because of who they are shows what Paul really thinks of me and so many of his own constituents. If he thought differently, he could have stopped the actions that occurred.”