Ryan’s voting record shows conservatism tinged with maverick streak

Congressman’s history includes vote for 2008 Wall Street bailout

Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republicans’ presumptive vice-presidential nominee, has amassed a very conservative voting record during his seven terms in Congress, including repeated votes against spending bills, unemployment-benefit extensions and most of President Obama’s agenda.

But he also voted for some of the Bush administration’s most controversial accomplishments, including the No Child Left Behind education bill and the 2003 Medicare prescription drug law that added a new entitlement to the government’s books without finding a way to pay for it.

He also voted for the Wall Street bailout in 2008, which has become a flash point for both ends of the political spectrum.

His chief breaks with most Republicans usually came on spending bills, where he regularly voted against his party leadership when they controlled the chamber before 2007. In 1999, he voted against expanding the Peace Corps, and voted against expanding debt relief to impoverished nations.

Mr. Ryan voted for the Patriot Act and later voted to preserve federal authorities’ ability under that law to seek library records in their investigations — a major test point for the legislation.

But he’s also had some more pointed dissents, including being one of relatively few House Republicans to vote for a bill that would have outlawed workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.

And he has voted to halt some of the strict U.S. sanctions against Cuba, siding with many Democrats and the likes of Rep. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican who represents the GOP’s libertarian wing.

On social issues, he voted to end federal funding for both NPR and Planned Parenthood as part of the GOP’s spending fights last year.

He maintains an A rating from the National Rifle Association, which backs Second Amendment rights.

He earned a 0 percent liberal score from Americans for Democratic Action, a left-leaning advocacy group, on their most recent scorecard, and has a lifetime 92 percent rating from the American Conservative Union.

He has signed Americans for Tax Reform’s pledge, which commits him to opposing any legislation that increases taxes, as officiated by ATR’s chief, Grover Norquist.

He voted against expanding embryonic-stem-cell research, and has amassed a decidedly pro-life record. National Right to Life said he voted pro-life 78 times out of the 78 votes he’s cast on their issue.

On jobs and labor, he voted against extending unemployment benefits without offsetting their costs, but he also was one of the relatively few Republicans to vote to preserve the Davis-Bacon labor rules in military construction spending earlier this year, which give preference to unionized labor.

He has a 90 percent lifetime rating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with most of his mark-downs coming because he voted against government spending as a way to produce jobs — including opposing Mr. Obama’s 2009 stimulus.

He was also one of less than three dozen Republicans who in 2007 backed Democrats‘ plan to require at least 15 percent of electricity in each state come from renewable fuels — a program the Chamber called unworkable.

Still, he’s not considered an environmentalist by any stretch: The League of Conservation Voters gave him a 24 percent lifetime rating in its most recent full-year scorecard.

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