Juan Williams: Ryan faces sea of troubles

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNow we know why Biden was afraid of a joint presser with Putin Zaid Jilani: Paul Ryan worried about culture war distracting from issues 'that really concern him' The Memo: Marjorie Taylor Greene exposes GOP establishment's lack of power MORE (R-Wis.) last week turned his back on calls for him to save his party as a last-minute candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. His excuse was that he had a lot of work to do in the House.

He’s not lying.

The first order of business is protecting the GOP majority from the prospect of collapse with Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHead of firms that pushed 'Italygate' theory falsely claimed VA mansion was her home: report Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting VA moving to cover gender affirmation surgery through department health care MORE or Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Ted Cruz says critical race theory is as racist as 'Klansmen in white sheets' Pentagon pulling 'certain forces and capabilities,' including air defenses, from Middle East MORE (Texas) at the top of the ticket in November. Right now, about 20 of the 30 Republican House seats the Democrats need to win to claim the majority are in danger.


To try to reinforce the party’s defenses against that challenge, Ryan had to break fundraising records in the first quarter of the year, hauling in $11 million for the National Republican Congressional Committee. He needs to beat that pace in the second quarter.

And Ryan will have to find those dollars while Trump continues to whip the GOP base into a frenzy against the party’s Washington establishment— including raising the specter of riots at the Republican National Convention. There is no more obvious personification of that establishment than the party’s top elected official – the very same Speaker.

Trump is increasing the pressure with daily accusations that the establishment is manipulating the delegate selection rules to steal the nomination from him.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the rude whispers about Ryan’s leadership failures are getting louder. House Republicans are increasingly saying that Ryan cannot control the same hard-right members of the House Freedom Caucus who drove his predecessor, John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerAre maskless House members scofflaws? Israel, Democrats and the problem of the Middle East Joe Crowley to register as lobbyist for recording artists MORE, into retirement. 

Remember, Ryan has yet to offer a GOP alternative to the Affordable Care Act or an official House GOP budget.

And he has made no progress on revising the tax code and welfare. 

These failures come despite Ryan’s agreement to “return to regular order” – ceding centralized control of the House agenda in order to give more power to the members. 

Ryan created task forces to give more power to his members as legislation is created.With that buy-in he hoped to end hard-right obstruction of bills  and allow the GOP majority to vote as a unified force.

But Ryan’s new tactics are not producing results. Friends as well as foes are starting to notice the mess on Ryan’s hands.

Let’s go to the scorecard:

He is nowhere close to meeting his stated goal of passing all 12 appropriations bills on time through regular order. On top of all that, Congress must pass contentious measures to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and save Puerto Rico from its impending bankruptcy in the next few weeks.

Keep in mind Ryan has to do all this in a tight timeframe. According to the House Majority Leader’s website, the chamber is only scheduled to be in session for 10 more weeks until the August recess. After that, Ryan will have only four more weeks before the November elections — and the possibility of Trump or Cruz wreaking havoc on Republican hopes.

According to the most recent poll from the Washington Post/ABC taken this month, 67 percent of Americans view Trump unfavorably. This includes 53 percent who say they have a “strongly unfavorable” view of him. Only 31 percent have a favorable view of the billionaire real estate mogul.

Cruz did not fare much better in the Post/ABC poll. Fifty-three percent view him unfavorably including 33 percent who have a “strongly unfavorable” view of him. 

With either of these two politically toxic men at the top of the GOP ticket, it is no longer a stretch to look at the possibility of the Democrats winning the 30 seats they need to make Paul Ryan the Minority Leader and Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House again.   

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, (D-N.M.), who is chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is bullish about Democratic prospects for House because his candidates are linking their GOP opponents to the rhetoric of Trump and, to an only slightly lesser extent, Cruz.

“Because of Trump and Cruz, the battlefield is growing, and districts that were maybe out of reach are now in reach,” Lujan told The Hill last week. 

Many of the toss-up districts in the House feature growing populations of Hispanic voters. They recoil at Trump’s talk of building a wall, stopping remittances to Mexico and smearing all Mexican immigrants as “rapists.” 

Even if GOP holds on to the majority but loses seats there will be major headaches for Ryan. 

A slim majority will mean more power for party renegades who delight in the attention that comes from defying the last, great hope of the GOP establishment: Paul Ryan.

Juan Williams is an author and political analyst for Fox News Channel. His latest book, "We The People," published by Crown, is out now.