Ryan gets support from House Freedom Caucus for speaker
Washington — The hardline House Freedom Caucus said Wednesday night it is supporting Rep. Paul Ryan for speaker of the House, all but guaranteeing he’ll get the job.
The group of around three dozen rebellious conservatives, who have caused fits for the GOP leadership, stressed that their support for Ryan was not an official endorsement because it couldn’t muster the 80 percent agreement such an announcement would require.
“A supermajority of the House Freedom Caucus has voted to support Paul Ryan’s bid to become the next Speaker of the House,” the group said in a statement. “Paul is a policy entrepreneur who has developed conservative reforms dealing with a wide variety of subjects, and he has promised to be an ideas-focused Speaker who will advance limited government principles and devolve power to the membership.”
Support from the group was not certain since they’ve repeatedly opposed GOP leaders and pushed the current speaker, John Boehner, to announce his resignation.
Several members of the group had raised concerns about Ryan. But after meeting behind closed doors Wednesday night, the lawmakers emerged to say they would support him.
A few members had taken issue with Ryan’s suggested changes to congressional rules and even his desire to balance family life with the demands of the job.
Earlier in the day there were signs of significant support. Almost the entire Michigan House Republican delegation said it supports Ryan’s bid, which he made known late Tuesday in a closed-door conference meeting.
“It is extremely challenging times, so I’m very appreciative that he’s agreed to step up to the challenge,” said Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township.
“The first thing is, can he get pretty good unity within the conference to be successful to win the vote on the floor with a pretty good margin? ... I’m cautiously optimistic that will happen.”
The lone Michigan holdout against Ryan is Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, a leader of the 40-member Freedom Caucus.
Amash told The Detroit News on Wednesday that the Freedom Caucus has endorsed Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida for speaker, but “we plan to meet with Paul Ryan to discuss his candidacy.” A low-key former speaker of the state House in Florida who’s focused on “pushing down” on what he calls the “pyramid of power” in Congress, Webster has made clear he remains a candidate for speaker.
Boehner, R-Ohio, set the date for Wednesday to have House Republicans select their nominee. The full House will vote on a new speaker the following day.
Earlier, some Freedom Caucus members complained about Ryan’s conditional candidacy.
“No other speaker candidate came in and said here’s the list of my demands, either meet those or I’m not going to do this,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas. “Speaker’s a big job. And it’s not a 9 to 5 job. So there are a lot of questions to be answered.”
Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, another Freedom Caucus member, said: “I think it’s pretty presumptuous to say that Paul Ryan is the only one who can win this.”
There was overwhelming support for Ryan in the Michigan delegation, where he is backed by eight Republicans. They included Reps. Bill Huizenga of Zeeland, David Trott of Birmingham, Mike Bishop of Rochester, John Moolenaar of Midland and Tim Walberg of Tipton.
Miller said that if the Freedom Caucus intends to stop Ryan from being successful on the floor, “they need to be up front and tell Paul Ryan what they’re going to do.”
Miller said Ryan expressed a willingness to make some changes to House rules that could go a long way toward gathering support from hard-liners and others who’ve felt they haven’t had their voices heard.
Huizenga said Ryan’s message to the conference was essentially one of unity and compromise.
“He said, ‘Look, everybody needs to give something up here: The bomb-throwers need to not shoot people in the back, and the hand-wringers are going to need to step up and deal with some of these tough decisions, take some tough votes,” said Huizenga, a third-term congressman from west Michigan.
One of Ryan’s first tasks if elected speaker would be dealing with a Dec. 11 deadline to pass spending legislation or face a shutdown.
Associated Press contributed.