tv House Speaker Ryan Farewell Address at Library of Congress CSPAN December 20, 2018 5:27am-6:12am EST
leadership has no term limits. chairman have term limits. all the way back to newt gingrich, what happened is we took a strong chairman system and we turned it into a strong speaker and minority leader system. conversations with retiring members of congress saturday at 8:00 eastern on c-span and c-span and c-span.org and listen with the free c-span radio app. the federal reserve announced it will raise short-term interest rates by another .25 percentage point but the wall street journal ranks that official signaled a milder path of rate increases. we will have the press conference with jerome powell in about 45 minutes. right now house speaker paul ryan gives his farewell speech. he was introduced by congressman trey gowdy of south carolina.
rep. gowdy: paul ryan is been the speaker of the house. he has been the chairman of the budget committee and the chairman of the ways and means committee. he's the smartest kid in the room. whether it's tax, budget, health care, entitlement reform. those are not the things i will remember the most or remember the most dearly about him. ofl was my favorite member congress before i ever got to congress. transition from a courtroom to a congressional candidate, i would read his roadmap to recovery. i would read his speeches. i would watch his interviews. he was smart. he was persuasive. inwas contrasting, but not
an overtly confrontational way. notecards during the debate. he did not need staff to whisper the answer in his ear. he was, to me, as a candidate for congress, exactly what our party and our country needed, which was a smart, persuasive, contrasting person who understood and knew the issues. i got to congress in 2011. i made it my mission that i was going to meet paul ryan. when we orientation were sworn in, i went by his office. no appointment. just showed up. satby his receptionist -- by his receptionist and that i am out going to leave until i can meet paul ryan. if you ever think of running for congress, don't do that. so we came out, and the very first thing i said was, mr. ryan, i would like your
autograph. shockedas awkward and and embarrassed. if you are ever thinking about being a member of congress, do not ask a colleague for his or her autograph either. he did to me and he took me into the office and he said "look, we are peers. we are colleagues. we are equals. we don't ask each other for autographs." let me tell you what else you don't do. you don't ask your colleagues to call your tea party groups in 2011 who are mad at you because you continue to vote for continuing resolutions. you don't ask your colleagues to do that. and i did not ask. he volunteered. was catching a lot of grief that comb. when you are surrounded by mick mulvaney and jeff duncan, you're going to catch grief you vote for cr's.
and i was sharing with paul, i don't know how to handle this. they are telling me not to vote for any more cr's. paul said i will call them. give me their numbers. i will call them. and the chairman of the budget committee called other people's problems, and he said this is not ideological. it is strategic. and to paul, it is never personal. it is always policy. saw paul mosti often in the gym. how you lift weights for eight years and still have such little muscles is amazing to me. [laughter] if you thinkt about it, kevin mccarthy has worked out for eight years and then cardio. [laughter] if you're looking for
paul ryan in the morning between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m., you'll find him in the gym, leading republicans and democrats in a workout. one morning in 2012, i stopped him, and i said "paul, do you think you ever would consider running for speaker of the house? you ever think you would be our speaker of the house?" he put his hands on my shoulders and he said, "i love you guys, but i don't love you enough to be the speaker." and he was right. 2012 had something else in store for him. mitt romney picked one of us, anouse die -- a house guy, ideas guy, to be his vice presidential candidate. picking him to be a heartbeat away from the leader of the free world can change people. it could. 'but for those of you who remember paul tripps -- who ip, he had nots tr
changed one bit. same policy-centric, modest, does not want to be the center of attention guy that he always was. and the election did not go his way. so he suffered disappointment on a national scale. and i can change people, too. but it did not. he came back to the house of representatives. he was the chairman of the budget committee. he was going to be the chairman of the ways and means committee, and then he got fat, and that that, and tha he got that was his dream job. ways and means committee, paul d ryan. and then boehner left. and then kevin withdrew. and we were a wreck. to the outside world, we needed a speaker. to those of us in the conference, we needed a lot more
than that. we needed someone who was unifying. we needed someone who could bridge the chasm among the different factions that had risen in our conference. we needed a first ballot candidate. and we found him. the challenge was convincing that person to run for speaker. most people think the speaker of the house is being second in withto the president and the incredibly difficult job of staying awake during the state of the union. to the members, being the speaker is much more than that. the speaker is the leader. it is where you take your problems. it is where you take your incredibly good ideas, if only your colleagues were wise enough to see your genius. the speaker referees fight, shoulders the blame, the flex the praise, -- deflects the
praise, explains the inexplicable to the national media, travels nonstop to help colleagues, some of whom have incredibly short memories. being the speaker is hard, which is why so few people run for it and even fewer yet are qualified. i know the phrase "reluctant politician" seems oxymoronic. i get the joke. except sometimes, it's true. sometimes, there is someone like a paul ryan. i can tell you without your of contradiction, paul ryan did not -- fear of contradiction, paul ryan did not want to be the speaker of the house. he supported mccarthy with every ounce of his fiber, but we needed somebody unifying, and we needed somebody universally respected, and we needed someone sacrificial enough to give up his dream job for no one's dream
job. paul has too much grace and too much class to say this, but i do not. [laughter] mr. gowdy: i wonder, sometimes, if we did him a favor. when we drafted him to be our speaker. he is a policy guy, always has been. he is not a bare knuckles political fighter. his bias is toward fairness. his bias is towards working with people. i wonder, sometimes, if we did .im a favor paul, i will tell you this. you may not have loved us enough to be the speaker of the has, but i am glad you loved the country enough to be the speaker of the house. [applause]
mr. gowdy: and my sadness is not that you are leaving. my sadness as i do not know how many paul ryans there are behind you, and how many young men and women like you would choose to enter the current political so you were right when we met eight years ago. we are peers. we are colleagues. we became friends. but, paul you are wrong about , one thing. we are not equals. you don't have an equal. people like you don't come along very often, and when they do, they don't come with your humility. when our founding fathers decided to engage in this
experiment, this intersection of virtue, knowledge, and freedom, it was people like you they had in mind. and if i had one draft choice if we were starting this experiment to lasso human nature through government, if i had one pick as a modern day founding father or mother it would be you, paul. , of all the people i know in politics, it would be you. so you leave as you began. my favorite member of congress. and i'm not alone. on behalf of a grateful congress and a grateful country, thank you for your service and the humility with which you are discharged it. ladies and gentlemen, the speaker of the house, paul d. ryan. [applause]
mr. ryan: thanks, man. thank you, everybody. thank you. hey, bob. please. please. hey, ryan. thank you, trey. >> everybody is laughing because you know exactly what i am talking about. i see him my friends and colleagues. i want to thank -- i see all my friends and colleagues here. i want to thank you all for joining me here today. i want to thank our librarian of congress, dr. haden, for having
us here in this beautiful hall. thank you very much. i remember meeting your mom right here on this stage not too long ago. you know, any time i come here, i can't help but think back to this pivotal time in my life. it was the sum over 2012. -- summer of 2012. i was about to speak at a local chamber of commerce group when i got this phone call, right up there in the reading room, which is what many of us members of congress go to. and the phone call was from beth myers from the romney campaign. and at this point, you know, i knew that i was being vetted for vice president. but i hadn't heard anything. i didn't know how serious this was. i was -- i didn't think they'd pick a guy from the house anyway. so beth starts to walk me through how i would need to fly up to boston incognito, she goes through all these logistics of what is about to occur, and it just starts occurring to me that my life, my family's life, is about to change dramatically.
and that call was right outside that door there. we hang up, i go up to the reading room and give that speech, and then i realize i've got to go vote on the floor. it was the last votes before the august recess. so this very moment when i want to be alone with my thoughts, i walked right into a swarm of colleagues and reporters just keeping mum. it's one of those inflection points. you just remember at certain crossroads in your life. this building, that moment. it reminds me right now that your plan, your direction can change in an instant. i have had a number of improbable turns in my life. i don't know what's next. but before i go, i am grateful to have the chance to share a few thoughts and to say good-bye.
i'm grate to feel say good-bye to you, to this job, and to this incredible institution we call the house of representatives. a long time ago i came here to , capitol hill as an intern for one smest for the college. the plan was pretty simple. one semester here in washington. learn something. that's it. since then i have been surrounded by some incredible people, the mentors who helped set me on the right path. jack kemp. bill bennett. bob woodson. the intellectual giants who guided me in the things i wanted guided me in the things i wanted to pursue, the people of southern wisconsin who gave me the chance to work for them the , staff who always made me better, the president and the vice president for being my partners in government the , colleagues who became lifelong friends, and, of course, my
family. this whole thing started as a family affair. my mom, my brother tobin, my sister-in-law, they ran my first campaign. my mom was my scheduler and so -- no one would turn down your mom when she calls to ask you to go speak to their group. it was a great setup. but it ends with family too. i would not have been able to serve as speaker were it not for the sacrifices that janna, liza, charlie, and sam made. being a husband and dad is everything to me. so we have come a long way together in this improbable journey. so from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you all. thank you. [applause] mr. ryan: you know, over the years, especially lately, i've always thought about this, i've been thinking to myself whether my dad would be proud of me.
would he be proud of what i'm doing, what i did? i lost him at a young age before he really had a chance to shape my path in life. i don't know what he thought i would make of myself, i was too young. but this was certainly not my plan. not even close. all i keep thinking is, every time i go back to this is, what a country. i mean, what a country. where someone of an unassuming, midwest upbringing it's a chance to be a part of all of this -- gets a chance to be a part of all of this. what a country. you can pursue whatever your passion is, wherever it takes you. i mean that's the american idea, , isn't it? the condition of your birth isn't your destiny. your struggle isn't your destiny. it's part of your journey. you know, it's all laid out right there in the first words of the constitution before first , principles even.
a first mission. to achieve a more perfect union. we're conditioned to recognize that we are imperfect but we are called to do better. so we revere these beautiful founding principles, liberty, free enterprise, consent of the governed, and then we go to work , to apply them to the problems of the day. and we build up the country's fundamental resilience, the anti-bodies that protects us from whatever is going to come our way. that's how we advance the american idea. that's how we build a more confident america. as trey said, as all my colleagues here know, i never wanted to become speaker. i was just a policy guy. i'd like to think i still am. but what i realize now is, you don't really become speaker. at least i don't see it that way. i don't see power as something you take for yourself. it's not a prize to claim or a
trophy to raise. you accept a temporary trust. to be a steward of the greatest legislative body in the world. and it is an awesome thing. again, just recently, the people have spoken. and soon the house will become the care of a new majority and what i know will be a spirited republican minority. i wish the next leaders well. but it is precisely because this is so momentary, it's because you are here for just a small part of history, that you are inspired to do big things. and on this score, we have achieved a great deal. we have much to be proud of. three years ago, when we last gathered in this hall, we began a great journey. to set our nation on a better path. to move our economy from stagnation to growth. to restore our military might. and we have kept our promises.
this house is the most productive we have had in at least a generation. to date, we have passed 1,175 bills, more than half of them with bipartisan support. and because it is my duty as speaker, nearly to say this, nearly 750 of those bills are still stuck in the united states senate. [laughter] mr. ryan but the rest of them : made it into law and that's an enormous achievement. now we have taken on some of the biggest challenges of our time. and we have made a great and lasting different difference in the trajectory of this country. we began a historic rebuilding of o-- of our military and national defense. we enacted new, tough sanctions on some of our biggest foes. we ushered in a new career and technical education system, something so many of us have been talking about for so long. regulatory reform to help small businesses. a long-sought expansion of domestic energy production to be
followed by america's new energy dominance. to stem the tide of opioid addiction, the most significant effort against a single drug crisis in congressional history. criminal justice reform to give more people a chance of redemption, making its way through, year doing this all the way up to the end. a landmark crackdown on human trafficking that is already yielding results and saving lyes. a v.a. with real accountability and finally better care for our veterans. and after years of doubt, years of the cynics saying it could not be done, we achieve the first major overhaul of our tax code in 31 years. [applause] mr. ryan: thinking about it, because i have a lot, and i know kevin has, we went from one of
the worst tax codes in the western world to the most competitive. that's something i worked on my entire adult life and it's something that will help improve the lives of people for a long time to come. it's one of those elusive generational reforms. it's why we do this. certainly, one congress cannot solve all that ails us. not every outcome has been perfect. but that's our great system at work. and i'm darn proud of what we have achieved together to make this a stronger and more prosperous country. you know my mentor, jack kemp, , he once said that the central task of any political party is to offer people superior ideas of government. i see it as even more than a task or obligation. i see it as a labor of love. yes, you can make a career out of criticism. you can deal from that deck all day long.
many people do and i certainly don't begrudge them that, it seems like an easy living. but well done is always, always a better pursuit than well said, isn't it? in this business you catch slings and arrows. it's a price that i have been they -- pay- because nothing is as fulfilling as pursuing an idea that will truly make a difference in people's lives, and seeing it through from start to finish. to me, that is the ultimate proving ground of politics. it is the great manifestation of this experiment in self-government. and i got to tell you, the more you get into it, when you choose to truly engage in the process rather than merely endure it, the more you come to see that even our most complex problems are solveable. i got to say i leave here as convinced as i was at the start that we face no challenge that can be overcome by putting pen to paper on good, sound policy.
by address head-on the problems of the day. the state of politics, though, is another question. and frankly, that's one i don't , have an answer for. you know, we have a good sense of what our politics should look like a great clash of ideas a , civil, passionate discourse through which we debate and resolve our differences, a system of government -- our system doesn't just allow for that, our system depends on that . one side may win, one side may lose. we dust ourselves off and we start anew knowing that each one fought in pursuit of their honest ideals. but today, too often, genuine disagreement quickly gives way to intense distrust. we spend far more time trying to convict one another than we do trying to develop our own
convictions. being against someone has more currency than being for something, and each of us, each of us has found ourselves operating on the wrong side of this equation from time to time and all of this gets amplified by technology, with an incentive structure that preys on people's fears and algorithms that become a brand and as with anything that gets marketed, it gets scaled up and becomes industrialized, more cold, more unfeeling. and that is the thing. for all the noise, there is less passion, less energy. we sort of default to lazy litmus tests and shopworn denunciations. feds just emotional pablum through a trough of outrage. it is exhausting. it takes meeting from our politics and it discourages good , people from pursuing public service. i mean, the symptoms of it are in our face all the time and the
recognize that its roots run deep into our culture and deep into our society today, and all of this pulls on the threads of our common humanity in what could be our unraveling, but nothing, nothing says it has to be this way. we all struggle. we are all fighting some battle in our lives, so why do we insist fighting one another so bitterly? this kind of politics starts from a place of outrage and then seeks to tear us down from there. so, key question, how do we get back to aspiration and inclusion ? where we start with humility and we start to build on that? i do not know the answer of that. what i offer today instead is something to keep in mind as we all try to navigate through this
moment. our culture is meant to be shaped not by our political institutions but by the mediating institutions of civil society, of our community. these are the places where we with people of different backgrounds, churches, pta meetings. it's where we buildup our social capital and our currency of howw we live and rediscovering that human connection is one lane on the road back to inclusion as the guiding influences of public life. as i said, the drivers of our broken politics are more obvious than the solutions. and so, this is a challenge i hope to spend wrestling with in my next chapter. i say as i look ahead to the much i know.s our complex problems are absolutely solveable. that is to say our problems are solveable if our politics will allow it.
there are three big ones in particular that i think we can tackle in the years ahead as a country. there are challenges that have fixed this country for many this -- that have vexed country for many years. and as i leave, i recognize so much work has to be done. if we get them right, we can be certain that this will be another great century for our country. you all know finding solutions to help people lift themselves out of poverty is a crucial mission for me and for many others. i think we have made a real progress in a relatively short period of time. four years ago, when our nation marked the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty, we exposed truths.tty hard for all of the billions spent, all of the bureaucracies and programs, we barely moved the needle, but we have begun to break this monolith. new opportunity zones which are
part of tax reform will being -- bring more to communities. social impact bonds will push it towards community leaders, whether helping the homeless or reducing recidivism. job training programs and case management approach, those are things that will help more people move from welfare to work. we have a long way to go. no two ways about it, but this is what i find to be so dynamic about free enterprise. it is not just about creating free enterprise. it is not just about creating jobs but restoring the job but the meaning of work. not getting people off of the sidelines but getting people on the path of life. and i firmly believe that solving our poverty challenges once and for all will require not just a great undertaking but a great rethinking of how we help the most vulnerable among us, and it begins with realizing
that the best results come from within communities, where solutions are tailored and targeted for people's needs. this battle will be won and bob, -- will be won eye to eye and soul to soul. thank you for showing me that, bob. we have great advocates in our party like tim scott, but i challenge my party, do not let this drift from your consciousness. every life matters and every person deserves a chance to succeed. let us keep advancing ideas. to allow people to live lives of self determination. this is great work and we can achieve this. second, i believe that we can be the generation that saves our entitlement programs. frankly, we need to be. and i acknowledge plainly that my ambitions for entitlement reforms have outpaced the
political reality, and i consider this our greatest unfinished business. you know, we all know what needs to be done. strong economic growth, which we have, and entitlement reform to address the long-term drivers of our debt. our revenue is about to return to its 50-year average. what continues to plague us is a mandatory spending system that is deeply out of balance and unsustainable. this was the case when i came here 25 years ago and is the case today. not too long ago few were able -- willing to recognize the scope of the problem, let alone engage on solutions. our government wasn't even inclined to examine our long-term fiscal picture. it didn't work that way. we had to go about changing the debate before we could go about the to change people's minds. i'm proud every year i was budget chairman we passed in the
house a roadmap to balancing the debt, and paying off our we camehis congress, within one vote of real health care entitlement reform. think about that. federal health care spending, it remains the principal driver of entitlement spending. our bill would have reformed two of our major health care programs to make them sustainable and to meet the health care needs of our country. so we have come a long way and we are closer than people realize, and ultimately, solving , this problem will require -- will require a greater degree of political will than exists today, and i regret that. but when the time comes to do this and it will, because it must, the path ahead will be based upon the framework we have laid out to solve this problem. we can get there. we really can tackle this problem before it tackles us.
here's the third challenge that i think we will have to address as a country. we have to fix our broken immigration system. right now, we are again locked into another short-term battle over one aspect of this issue no , matter what the outcome is in the coming days, the larger problem will remain. the system is in need of serious and no less than the very potential of this nation is at stake, but the right mix of policy is there. border security and interior enforcement for starters but also a modernization of our visa systems what makes sense for our economy and our system. anyone who wants to play by the rules and work hard and be part of our american fabric can contribute. that includes the dreamers, those who came here through no fault of the road and, ultimately, the undocumented population. in order to fix the system, you have to reset the system.
in order to truly enforce the law, you have to get the people right with the law. again, we came closer in this congress than people realize and next year, the supreme court will make a ruling and then both parties can and should go back to the table. getting this right is an economic and moral imperative. and it would go a long way towards taking some of the venom out of our discourse. if we do these three things, make progress on poverty, fix our immigration system, and confront this debt crisis, we can make this another great century for our country. look, i recognize these challenges are ones we haven't made much progress on in recent years. but i have got to tell you, i am confident we still have it in ourselves to solve it. a good friend of mine recently amid the to me that
frenzy of politics today, he has got more faith in our system of government than ever before. system,t it, in our really bad ideas, they get killed, and good ideas, they just take time. our problems are solvable if our politics will allow it. i know it. i have seen it. in a confident america we don't , slug our shoulders and don't pass the buck. we roll up our sleeves and get on with our work. a confident america leads the world too, not with bluster, but with steady principled action. remember, history really does have a way of repeating itself. the democratic capitalist model again finds another moment in tests. much of our day-to-day attention is focused on liberal regimes and radical islamist.
-- islamic terrorists, as it should be. i urge leaders in both parties to devote more time that china -- to the threat that china poses to the west. china offers an alternative of an authoritarian model with a veneer of capitalism and the , sense i get from when i have been traveling overseas as speaker is our allies wonder whether we are still in the game or not. have thehow that we most juice, when we can do the most good for the most people liberty gets ground. , when we get complacent, most countries go in the direction of autocrats. a competent america stands up to its challengers by committing to the pillars, by leading. in addition to rebuilding our military and giving our intelligence the tools it needs, it has strengthened cooperation
with our allies, which really indogh nato and the pacific region, and good security cooperation goes hand-in-hand with strong economic ties. this is why we need to continue tradesue good, free agreements that open up markets. there is a lot of effort on this front. it needs to continue. we do not want our competitors writing the rules of the road and shutting us out, and a competent america exercises clear moral leadership. worked to continue to together to promote things like the global health initiative, fight human trafficking, and be a voice for the voiceless. our economy is strong. our military might is second to none, and clear leadership makes the best of both of those things. so for each of the challenges i have discussed here today, there are people of goodwill in both parties who are ready and willing to take action. everyone does not need to agree
on everything, and everyone does not need to disagree on everything either. all you need is enough people of good faith willing to take up a good idea. that is a good start. so what comes next? well, we are going to have a lot of new faces around congress next year. you know i hear a lot of good , things from that fresh-faced guy from utah. so here is my advice to members new and members old. this place is full of wonders and opportunity. but do your best to stay grounded. the way i think of it, if you -- it is either you change things or you -- or change you, so you have to keep your sense of self. you have to work hard around here and stand for who you are. insist on it. it's what i have been praying about literally every morning, to keep myself of self. i knew when i took this job i
would become a polarizing figure. it just comes with the territory but the one thing i leave most of, i would like to think i am the same person now as i was when i arrived. still never forget that , excitement that brought you here. remember how awestruck you felt the first time you stepped on the house floor. keep that feeling. when the experts tell you you tackto tack this wasy or that way. sit down with people that know something more than you do. invest in the process. you are going to hit road blocks. but timing is everything. so you have to get it right. you have to be prepared. you may not get too many shots at it. so you have to be ready when the moment demands action and focus on good relationships with your colleagues. get to know people on the other
side of the aisle. get to know the human side of serving with people. build personal relationships so it is just not transactions. you want real relationships. having real relationships, that will help you overcome pitfalls and build trust. of reallot relationships right here in front of me, and most of all, when you give your word, you have to keep your word. it is really important. give your word, only though if you can keep it. and keep a balanced temperament, a sense of gratitude, which brings me to this. to everything there is a season and for me this season of service is coming to a close. i have had the chance to do something that i love so much for so long, to do my small part to advance the american idea and i leave as i came here, optimist to the core. i would not have it any other way. nothing is impossible if you are willing to go out and fight for
it. if nothing else, i ask you to remember one thing, we are each part of a larger story, a greater cause. and what we have here is a miracle. it really is. and this miracle has made us the most free and the most prosperous nation on earth ever. cherish that. marvel at that. always dream big. always raise your gaze. for just as remarkable as what we have achieved is what we have someapacity to do still, here is to the people, here is to the people's house and the possibilities. thank you for everything. god bless america. thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national
>> when the new congress takes office in january, it it will have the youngest, most diverse freshman class in recent history. new congress, new leaders, watch it live on c-span starting january 3. of our liveome coverage thursday on c-span, the house returns at 9:00 a.m. eastern and takes up a short-term spending bill to keep the federal government operating through february 8. members also work on criminal justice reform and tax related
legislation. on c-span two, the senate is in session after approving a temper responding built. majority leader mitch mcconnell said the chamber is coming into monitor what the houses going to do on the government funding bill. c-span3also be live on at 10:15 a.m. with homeland security secretary cures to toson on capitol hill testify before the house judiciary committee. the top democrat on the committee says he plans to ask the secretary about the death of a seven-year-old girl from guatemala who was in border patrol custody. a couple of headlines from bloomberg news -- markets revolt as steadfast powell downplays recent selloff. the washington post -- federal reserve cuts its outlook for u.s. economy and stocks plunge. the federal reserve short-term interest rates are raised. president trump has called it foolish but the fed also downgradedts