How Tim Ryan Spends His Time in DC: Renaming Buildings

Ohio congressman Tim Ryan (D.) / Getty Images
July 12, 2022

Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio) calls himself a "relentless advocate for Ohio’s working families," but his nearly two-decade stretch in Washington, D.C., has resulted in passing just four bills, according to a Washington Free Beacon review of his sponsored legislation.

Of those laws, three of them were to rename federal buildings, including a post office in Tallmadge, Ohio. The fourth bill transferred the ownership of a Ravenna, Ohio, building from the federal government to the Ohio government.

Ryan, who is running for Ohio’s open Senate seat in November, first entered Congress in 2003 after serving a half term in the Ohio Senate. He claims on his campaign website that he has spent his time in Washington, D.C., working on, among other things, bipartisan legislation to solve the opioid crisis, strengthen entitlements, and bring jobs back from overseas. "Tim has spent his career fighting for Ohio workers," Ryan’s campaign website reads.

But none of that rhetoric has translated into bills signed into law and raises questions about Ryan’s central campaign pitch: That he’s a bipartisan dealmaker looking to overcome partisan divides. Generally, incumbents try to sell voters on their record. In Ryan’s case, he speaks about what is possible if Democrats maintain control of the Senate—rather than what he has accomplished.

"So we have to invest into our people. Into child care. Into our families. Into our kids. Into shop class," Ryan said at a recent campaign stop. "Into building resiliency for our kids, so that they have the grit and the determination to go out in this world that's crazy as can be."

Ryan’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

The last bill that Ryan sponsored that was signed into law was in January 2021. That law renamed a Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic. Before then, Ryan had not seen any of his bills signed into law since 2014.

"Career politician Tim Ryan has cheated Mahoning Valley working families," said Ohio Republican Party chairman Bob Paduchik. "Ryan's record of failure is obvious, but if you want a post office named then he is your man."

Despite his odes to bipartisanship, Ryan has a voting record in Congress indistinguishable from the most partisan Democrats. According to a "Biden Score" tracker from FiveThirtyEight, Ryan votes with President Joe Biden 100 percent of the time—more than Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.).

Ryan’s attempt to overcome the perception that he is another vote for Biden—who has the lowest job approval rating of any president in the history of modern polling—in a state former president Donald Trump won by 8 points in 2020 has resulted in some awkwardness. 

Earlier this month, he was one of the only major Ohio Democrats who did not attend Biden’s speech in Cleveland. Ryan’s campaign said his absence was due to a scheduling conflict. 

On the campaign trail, Ryan steers away from the Democratic Party label as much as possible. In one instance, Ryan seemingly lifted his anti-opioid proposal from a bill by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R., Colo.).

Ryan will face off against Republican J.D. Vance for the Senate seat held by retiring Republican senator Rob Portman. Vance is a heavy favorite in the race. A June poll conducted by USA Today/Suffolk University found Ryan trailing Vance by 3 points.