Reports have emerged after Tuesday night’s House Republican meeting that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) will run for speaker, but with one condition: every group in the party must support his candidacy.
That scenario is turning into reality Wednesday morning as Speaker John Boehner has called for the House Republicans to vote on their nominee for speaker next week on October 28.
The move is a clear sign the collapse of the Republican Party has been avoided, for now. The news first broke of Ryan’s willingness to take on the top job in the House late Tuesday after a meeting where Ryan said that he was “willing to take arrows in the chest but not in the back,” according to members in the room at the time.
It was Darrell Issa (R-California) who first broke the news to members of the media, saying that Ryan’s one condition was support from the moderate Tuesday Group, the House Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee.
The Freedom Caucus was the group that previously sunk Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s run for speaker after they announced their intention to vote en banc for Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Florida). Shortly after the announcement, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) announced via Twitter that he was no longer a candidate for the job.
I am out and supporting @RepPaulRyan for Speaker. Right person at the right time.
— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) October 20, 2015
By allowing the groups to determine support early on, Ryan gave clear warning that he is a reluctant candidate. Reports over the previous two weeks have been that one of the biggest issues plaguing his decision was the time he wants to keep with his family. If the Freedom Caucus, which is the group Ryan was likely singling out for support in announcing his decision, decides to continue to back Webster or a different Republican, Ryan will have the easy out to avoid to mess that plagued McCarthy and prompted Boehner to resign in the first place.
If the Freedom Caucus does agree to support Ryan, though, it will mean a change in the role of the speaker in at least one way. Ryan, who is currently chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, has said that he will not act as fundraiser. That may not be the type of change the caucus wanted, members have been clamoring for more equity in the amendment process. It is no guarantee that all, or even some, of the caucus will willingly back him, given the low rating Ryan has with the affiliated Conservative Review giving him an F in its Liberty Score and Breitbart running a series of stories indicating that the architect of many Republican budgets that have balanced the books is too liberal for Republicans.
The pressure Ryan has been under to run for the speaker’s job indicates that many of the more establishment types in the party are desperate for someone, anyone to lead the party to a more unified time. In the private meeting, Ryan said that he didn’t “want to be the third log on the bonfire” of the conservative movement’s effort to enact fundamental change to the speaker’s role.
“I hope it doesn’t sound conditional…but it is,” Ryan said in the meeting.