Representative Bryan Steil (R – WI) replaced former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s First Congressional district. His first day in Congress found him smack dab in the middle of the partial government shutdown. And this anti-Washington crusader immediately toed the party line. That seems a bit ironic (I’ll use that word today) given his run as something of an outsider…well despite having worked for Rep. Ryan and being endorsed by Rep. Ryan. But let’s check this:


“It’s frustrating … I campaigned against Washington, the dysfunction, the inability to get things done,” Steil said Friday. “And we are in the midst of true dysfunction, an inability to fund some of the core functions of the federal government.”


Steil is a 37-year-old Janesville Republican replacing a 48-year-old Janesville Republican, outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan. A lawyer, Steil worked for Ryan in Congress as a legislative aide more than a decade ago. 


Steil received the keys to his House office Wednesday. And his first big votes as a new member came Thursday. They were cast against two measures passed by House Democrats to reopen the government without the more than $5 billion demanded by President Donald Trump for border security and a wall. Only a handful of House Republicans backed those measures. Wisconsin lawmakers voted along party lines on both bills.

So maybe he could have helped stymie the dysfunction he decries in Washington and vote for bills to re-open the government? He wouldn’t be the singleton Republican doing it. So dysfunction continues to rule the roost. Well…wait…there’s always a rationale:

Steil said he opposed them because those measures weren’t going to win the approval of a GOP-controlled Senate and the president. He called them “political theater.”

He opposed them because they won’t pass the Senate? That’s not your problem. That’s a problem for leadership. Your purpose in Washington is to vote in the best interests of the residents of Wisconsin’s First District. A bill is either right or wrong for your constituents. If it is good for the Wisconsin First…you need to vote for it and not worry about whether that gives Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or President Donald Trump a headache down the line.

First day in and he’s head first in the swamp…

Now to the accusation that the bills are political theater? Only if guys like Rep. Steil say they are. Pass them and they are law…grandstand on your opposition and they are political theater…of your own making.

BTW: both parties engage in political theater from time to time. But that’s how you get the issues out of the cloakrooms of the Capital and onto the front pages of the media and into the twitter feed of the president. Correct?

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