In a widely covered news breakfast last week sponsored by The American Spectator, at the offices of Americans for Tax Reform, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan was reported in many forums to have said all sorts of interesting things about Romneycare, the budget, the presidential campaign, and other subjects. What was NOT written about anywhere else, as far as I could tell, was Ryan’s assertion that Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) — a requirement that union wages be paid on government projects even to non-union workers — avoided being prohibited for federal projects due to a flat-out mistake.
Rep. Frank Guinta, New Hampshire Republican, had offered the amendment to ban the PLAs, but it failed on a 210-210 tie vote with 26 Republicans voted no and another five failed to vote. Some of those 26 GOPers have come under such fire for their vote that observers think they may have endangered their re-election prospects. Critics say PLA’s add billions of dollars, overall nationwide, to the federal budget. Paul Ryan was one of those 26 “no” votes. I asked him why. Before the question was even half out of my mouth, Ryan said that his vote was just a mistake, and that four or five other GOPers who voted “no” made a similar mistake. He said the amendment was one of a series of dozens of amendments all offered in rapid-fire fashion, with just two minutes to vote on each, and that he had just gotten confused on that vote and thought it was the next amendment in line. He said he would vote to ban PLAs the next time the subject came up.
If this is true, one would think the House leadership would hustle to provide just such an opportunity.