Tags: Paul Ryan | paul ryan | house | speaker | seeking | issa

Paul Ryan to Seek House Speakership

Paul Ryan to Seek House Speakership

Tuesday, 20 October 2015 09:06 PM

Representative Paul Ryan said he’d be willing to run for speaker of the U.S. House if Republicans unify behind him now, end leadership crises and let him continue spending time with his family. 

“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 Tuesday he told fellow House Republicans in a closed-door 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.

Representative Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican, said Ryan told fellow Republicans he wanted to change the process for dissatisfied lawmakers to remove the speaker. “The question is whether the conference is willing to unify behind him,” said Walden.

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

House Speaker John Boehner plans to announce a date Wednesday for Republicans’ vote to nominate a speaker candidate, said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma.

Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said Ryan wants backing from three groups of House Republicans -- the centrist Tuesday Group, the conservative Republican Study Committee and the more hard-line Freedom Caucus.

Ryan’s stance, after a week of pondering fellow Republicans’ pleas to run, leaves the House leadership unresolved just two weeks before the Nov. 3 deadline to raise the U.S. debt limit. The House Freedom Caucus drove Boehner to resign and his top lieutenant to quit the race to succeed him. At least two members of that group said Tuesday they wouldn’t commit to supporting Ryan.



Debt Limit

House Republicans have been in chaos over the speaker’s position -- second in line to the presidency -- as Congress nears the Nov. 3 deadline to raise the U.S. debt limit or risk default. Lawmakers also need to replenish the federal highway fund by Oct. 29. Then they must resolve disputes over federal spending by Dec. 11 or risk a government shutdown, something Boehner couldn’t head off in 2013.

Ryan is viewed by many as a unifying force after negotiating a two-year budget deal with Democrats in 2013. Boehner implored him to run for speaker, as did Mitt Romney, who chose Ryan as his vice presidential nominee in 2012. Still, some members of the Freedom Caucus have said he is too willing to compromise.

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, 45, of Wisconsin is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and 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. He said he didn’t want to spend weekends away from his family for the extensive travel and fundraising that have been a major part of the House speaker’s job.

The Boehner for Speaker political action committee raised $35.38 million during the 2014 campaign in a grueling nights- and-weekend pace that took him from Florida to Alaska. Almost all of the money was passed on to other House candidates. Boehner has already traveled to more than 100 events this year, according to his fundraising operation.

Tax Overhaul

Ryan also has longed to pursue a comprehensive tax-overhaul bill as Ways and Means chairman.

Known to be interested in running for president, Ryan has spurned past attempts to lure him to the speakership because it’s viewed as a political dead end. James K. Polk is the only House speaker ever to ascend to the presidency, and that was 170 years ago.

According to House procedure, Republicans would choose their speaker nominee at a closed-door meeting. Then the full House would schedule a 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.

Members of the Freedom Caucus -- a group of almost 40 conservatives whose resistance to Boehner and McCarthy helped push them out -- have said that Ryan would have to work for their votes.

A group of Freedom Caucus members met with Ryan Tuesday, and afterward caucus leader Justin Amash of Michigan said afterward the group still supports its candidate for speaker, Representative Daniel Webster of Florida.

Another caucus member, Mo Brooks of Alabama, said he wouldn’t commit to support Ryan and wanted to hear from constituents. He said he was concerned about Ryan’s stance on immigration.

Harry Reid

While House Democrats have said they would stay out of the Republican leadership battle, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he hoped Ryan would become speaker.

“He appears to me to be one of the people over there that would be reasonable,” Reid told reporters. “Of all those people I hope he gets it.”

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.

Freedom Caucus members chose Webster as their candidate for speaker on Oct. 7, and the following day McCarthy dropped out of the race saying he wasn’t the right person to unite the Republican members.

Boehner of Ohio announced Sept. 25 that he would leave Congress by the end of October, following years of clashes with conservatives who most recently threatened to shut down the government in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood. After McCarthy dropped out of the race, Boehner said he would stay on until a new speaker is chosen.

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paul ryan, house, speaker, seeking, issa
Tuesday, 20 October 2015 09:06 PM
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