Ryan unveils Dem reform plan

WARREN — U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan released his proposed reforms for the House Democratic Caucus Saturday.

Ryan, D-Howland, is challenging his mentor and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to become House minority leader. The election is scheduled for Nov. 30.

“The Democratic Party cannot move forward and win back our majority unless we decentralize the power of our party leadership and bring it back to all members. Each and every member brings to Congress ideas for how we can shape our party and our country for the 21st century, and it is time our leadership recognized that every member of our caucus must play a role,” Ryan stated in a news release.

The release outlines four reforms Ryan said he will work immediately to enact if he is elected Democratic leader:

• Splitting the duties of the steering and policy committee between a Democratic Steering Committee and a new Democratic Committee on Policy Innovation.

“With a significant number of seats reserved for young members, members in competitive districts and reflecting the diversity of our caucus, the Democratic Committee on Policy Innovation will become our caucus’ ‘idea factory,’ ensuring the Democratic Party is always seen by the American people as the ‘party of ideas.’ This committee’s work will help translate our policies into electoral success,” Ryan stated.

• Immediately create, beginning in the 115th Congress, an elected-leadership position reserved only for members with three terms or less. This person also will have a seat on the Democratic Steering Committee.

• Work with committee ranking members to create the role of vice chairs / vice ranking members of committees. The vice chair position will be an opportunity for additional members to take part in decision-making, have their voices heard, assume additional responsibility and increase their national profile. The vice chairs also will have representation on the Democratic Steering Committee or the Democratic Committee on Policy Innovation, Ryan stated.

• The Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, currently chaired by retiring Rep. Steve Israel, should be renamed the Democratic Committee on Message Strategy, headed by two co-chairs and focused on ensuring the party’s best messengers in Congress are given the resources they need to advance the caucus’s message nationally. Members of the Democratic Committee on Message Strategy will be tasked as Issue Ambassadors working hand in hand with the newly created Democratic Committee on Policy Innovation and the Democratic leader’s office to find new and innovative ways to communicate with the American people.

Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman Dave Betras said Ryan “is doing the right thing by decentralizing power, giving less-senior members an enhanced opportunity to lead the House Dems and placing an increased emphasis on nationalizing the House Dems’ message.”

Ryan said Democrats, who lost 60 seats in 2010, have been in the majority of the House of Representatives for only two terms over the past 18 years and that Nov. 8’s election results set the party back even further. Democrats were expected to make double-digit House gains Nov. 8, but picked up just two seats, with one race still undecided, the unofficial results show.

Ryan was elected to Congress at age 29 in 2002. If Ryan would get the job, he would be one of  the two top Democrats in Congress, along with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, because the House, the Senate and the presidency would be in Republican hands beginning Jan. 20.