Freedom Caucus’ Amash backs Ryan for speaker

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Cascade Township said he is among the Republican conservative hard-liners who have decided to back Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s bid to become the next speaker of the House.

A “supermajority” of the 40-member House Freedom Caucus voted to support Ryan for speaker late Wednesday, giving Ryan sufficient support to win the position, should he decide to run. The vote came after meetings with the House Ways and Means committee chairman this week.

The caucus did not meet its 80-percent threshold for a formal endorsement, the group said in a statement. The group previously endorsed Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Florida, for speaker.

“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,” the statement reads.

While “no consensus” exists among the caucus members regarding Ryan’s conditions for serving as speaker, “we believe these issues can be resolved within our conference in due time.”

Amash told The Detroit News on Thursday that, “consistent with our statement, if Chairman Ryan runs and becomes the nominee, I will support him on the floor.”

The endorsement means all nine Michigan House Republicans back Ryan — the first time in at least the past four years that the GOP delegation has been united on a speaker candidate. Amash opposed House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, during the past two speaker elections.

The support by Amash and a majority of the Freedom Caucus appears to pave the way for Ryan’s election because those caucus members initially were the most resistant to his proposed candidacy.

The retiring Boehner has set the date for Wednesday to have House Republicans select their nominee. The full House would vote on a new speaker the following day.

Boehner has said he plans to leave Congress mid-term on Oct. 30, following threats from some conservatives to force a vote to remove him.

Ryan on Tuesday said he wouldn't launch a bid for Speaker unless he won endorsements from three major GOP factions including the Freedom Caucus, Republican Study Committee and the more centrist Tuesday Group.

Several members of the Freedom Caucus had raised concerns about Ryan and his conditions for serving as speaker, which include wanting to eliminate the procedural maneuver for removing the speaker from office.

Amash has stressed the need for the next speaker to uphold the “open process that allows the body to reflect on the policy preferences of the people,” he wrote in a recent CNN essay.

On Tuesday, Amash retweeted a post from the Freedom Caucus saying the next speaker must “follow House rules and commit to an open process for debating and amending legislation. Let the House work its will.”

The Freedom Caucus statement on Wednesday said, “We all know that Washington needs to change the way it does business, and we look forward to working with Paul and all our colleagues to enact process reforms that empower individual representatives and restore respect to our institution.”

Also on Thursday, the centrist Tuesday Group formally endorsed Ryan for speaker.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, a founding member of the caucus, said Ryan has the ability to lead and help bring together the Republican conference.

“Paul’s strong background is uniting all the factions within our party so that we can get back to working on a positive, governing agenda on behalf of folks in southwest Michigan and across the country,” Upton said in a statement.

“It’s time to put this behind us and get back to work.”

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