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Far-Right GOP: Ryan Demands 'Unrealistic'

Image: Far-Right GOP: Ryan Demands 'Unrealistic'

Wednesday, 21 Oct 2015 01:22 PM

Representative Paul Ryan began meeting with House Republicans on his bid to become speaker as skeptical conservatives weighed whether they could accept conditions he set for succeeding John Boehner and ending turmoil that has gripped the party.

The Wisconsin Republican met Wednesday with the Republican Study Committee, a large caucus of more than 170 fellow House conservatives, and will discuss his candidacy later with members of the hard-line Freedom Caucus that drove Boehner from office. He’s pinning his run for the job on winning support from those lawmakers and one other major party group.

“It is fair to say a number of people are open to him but it’s with some reservations,” Representative Raul Labrador, a member of the Freedom Caucus, said Wednesday. 

Boehner announced Wednesday that House Republicans would vote on a speaker nominee on Oct. 28 and that the full chamber would vote on his successor the next day. The Ohio Republican is leaving Congress at the end of the month after years of fighting with party conservatives. 

Ryan offered a harsh assessment of the situation in the House during a Tuesday night meeting with House Republicans, said Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who is backing another candidate for speaker.

“Paul Ryan described the situation here as a cancer that he doesn’t want to spread to the Senate or to the presidential race,” Massie said.

Ending Chaos

Ryan called for party members to unite behind him and set other demands as part of a vision for ending chaos in the party as Congress nears a Nov. 3 deadline to raise the U.S. debt limit. He also sought to restrict the procedure Freedom Caucus members threatened to employ to remove Boehner as speaker. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, decided to resign rather than fight the effort.

  “Given his bold list of demands last night I think he’s saying he doesn’t really want the job,” Massie said. “I think the demands are not just bold but unrealistic.”

He compared Ryan’s demand to change the procedure for removing the speaker to a corporate CEO telling shareholders, “if I run your company in the ground you can’t fire me.”

Republicans face some urgency to resolve their leadership crisis. Congress must raise the federal debt limit by Nov. 3 or risk default. Lawmakers also need to replenish the federal highway fund by Oct. 29 and resolve disputes over federal spending by Dec. 11 or face a government shutdown, something Boehner couldn’t head off in 2013.

“I think Paul is going to get the support he is looking for,” Boehner told reporters Wednesday. He didn’t respond when asked if he had a backup plan in case Ryan’s candidacy didn’t succeed.

Webster Candidacy

The House Freedom Caucus, about three-dozen hard-line conservatives, has thus far backed Representative Daniel Webster of Florida for speaker. Asked whether the group is open to supporting Ryan given his conditions, co-leader Jim Jordan of Ohio kept the door open.

“We’re talking this afternoon,” he said. Jordan said 80 percent of the group’s members need to agree in order to change its endorsement. Representative John Fleming said he was “open- minded” to Ryan and looked forward to speaking with him.

Webster said he will stay in the speaker’s race even if he loses the Freedom Caucus endorsement to Ryan. "I got in the race early -- before Paul Ryan got in," he said. "I know it’s the right thing to do."

Other Freedom Caucus members, including Representative Trent Franks of Arizona, have declined to say whether they might switch their allegiance to Ryan. But some, including Representative Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, have expressed continued skepticism.

“How does giving Paul Ryan more power solve the problem of John Boehner having had too much power?” asked Huelskamp, referring to some of Ryan’s demands. “Every organization has a way to remove its leaders.”

Huelskamp also complained that members wanted to question Ryan about some of his demands and comments during Tuesday’s closed-door session, but weren’t allowed to do so.

Tuesday Group

The RSC plans to meet with Ryan Wednesday. A third caucus - - the so-called “Tuesday Group” of about 40 House Republican centrists -- is set to meet with Ryan Thursday, said one member, Steve Womack of Arkansas.

“It’s likely that I think he’s going to get strong support from the Tuesday Group and mainstream members,” said the group’s chairman, Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. “I can’t speak for the RSC or Freedom Caucus, but he’ll win it if his demands are met.”

If conservatives were to scuttle Ryan’s plan, he said he is prepared to stay in his current post as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Republicans then would be left without any clear alternative. Boehner has said he’ll remain speaker until his replacement is selected.

Immigration Stance

Freedom Caucus member Mo Brooks, of Alabama, said Ryan’s “open borders” position on immigration would make him a tough sell with the Freedom Caucus members. In addition, he said, “denying members of Congress the ability to remove a speaker of the House who is not performing properly certainly is a concern.”

Ryan said he told fellow Republicans that he wants them to unify behind him, end leadership crises and let him continue spending time with his family. Ryan said he didn’t want to spend weekends away from his wife and children for the extensive travel and fundraising that have been a major part of the House speaker’s job.

“If you can agree to these requests and if I can truly be a unifying figure, then I will gladly serve,” Ryan, 45, of Wisconsin said, recounting what he said during the meeting. “This is not a job I’ve ever wanted,” he told reporters, but added that he “came to the conclusion that this is a very dire moment.”

Ryan said he wants an answer from fellow Republicans by the end of the week. “It’s in their hands,” he said.

Ryan’s stance, announced after a week of pondering some fellow Republicans’ pleas to run, leaves the speakership -- second in line to succeed the president-- still unresolved weeks after Boehner’s Sept. 25 decision to resign.

Vacate the Chair

Ryan wants changes in a procedure for removing the House speaker, known as a motion to vacate the chair, his spokesman, Brendan Buck, said in an e-mailed statement. Freedom Caucus members’ threat to try to remove Boehner last month led to the speaker’s announcement that he will give up the job.

“No matter who is speaker, they cannot be successful with this weapon pointed at them all the time,” Buck said.

“He said he’s willing to take arrows in the chest,” said Representative Peter King of New York, “but not in the back.”

A number of Republicans began pressuring Ryan to seek the job after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s stunning Oct. 8 withdrawal from the race to succeed Boehner. Ryan was the party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee.

Ryan had been deeply resistant to the idea of seeking the speaker’s job, people who have spoken to him said, and his staff repeatedly said he didn’t want the post. Ryan has longed to pursue a comprehensive tax-overhaul bill as Ways and Means chairman.

Vote Procedure

According to House procedure, Republicans would choose their speaker nominee at a closed-door meeting. Then the full House would vote, with almost all Democrats expected to support Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. The winner must be backed by a majority of those who vote; lawmakers who designate themselves as “present” wouldn’t count.

Even as Ryan has pursued many Republican goals -- including cutting business tax rates, repealing the estate tax and replacing Obamacare -- he also has supported allowing 11 million undocumented immigrants to eventually become U.S. citizens, a stance strongly opposed by most House Republicans.

 


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Representative Paul Ryan began meeting with House Republicans on his bid to become speaker as skeptical conservatives weighed whether they could accept conditions he set for succeeding John Boehner and ending turmoil that has gripped the party. The Wisconsin Republican met...
gop, ryan, conditions, unrealistic
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2015-22-21
Wednesday, 21 Oct 2015 01:22 PM
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