Jewish Dems Blast Ryan Over Promises to Freedom Caucus

Congressman Paul Ryan is not getting a warm welcome from Jewish liberal groups as he readies to take over the gavel and serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Ryan promised members of the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) that he won’t bring immigration-reform legislation to the House floor “so long as Barack Obama is president.” The letter, obtained by National Review, was given to the Republican representatives after receiving a majority of their support in his race for Speaker.

Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc, a Jewish social justice group, blasted Ryan for promising to block immigration reform from coming up for a vote while President Obama remains in office. “Congressman Ryan’s promise to placate the extreme right-wing of his party is a sad act of political cowardice,” Cotler said in a statement. “When Ryan ran for Vice President in 2012, he presented himself as a bold and future-thinking reformer. But his capitulation to the most extreme members of his party proves that to be no more than empty rhetoric. It’s deeply disappointing that he would willingly leave millions of families stranded in the shadows in order to placate the worst political demands of his party’s extremist wing.”

The more-affiliated Jewish Democratic group was equally critical of the incoming speaker.

“Ryan’s voting record and his right-wing politics were already far out of step with the American Jewish community,” Greg Rosenbaum, chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), told Jewish Insider. “That he decided to move even further right by capitulating to the so-called House Freedom Caucus, and one of their specific demands on blocking immigration reform, only shows that the Republican-controlled congress is going to alienate Jewish voters even more under Speaker Ryan.”

The Democrats’ assertion that the House under Speaker Ryan will “alienate” Jewish voters was countered by Tevi Troy, who served as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and as White House Jewish liaison in the George W. Bush administration. “Ryan will be a good friend to Israel and to the American Jewish community as Speaker, and it would be best to come together as a community to welcome him to the new role,” Troy told Jewish Insider.

“I am excited to have the outspokenly pro-Israel Paul Ryan serve as Speaker. His mentor was Jack Kemp, who successfully pushed for the GOP to be the pro-Israel party it is today,” he added.

The Republican Jewish Coalition blamed Democrats for starting to make things partisan before Paul Ryan even becomes Speaker. “We are confident that he is going to pursue issues that are important for the Jewish community as well as all Americans like supporting Israel, preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, defeating ISIS and improving our economy by adding more jobs and lowering taxes, RJC’s spokesperson Mark McNulty told Jewish Insider in an emailed statement.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.