Posted: 8:48 pm Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
By Jamie Dupree
After eleven days of silence, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) told fellow Republicans that he would run for the job of Speaker of the House, but only if GOP lawmakers unified behind him – especially more conservative Republicans who have already pushed out Speaker John Boehner.
“This is not a job I have ever wanted,” Ryan told reporters after addressing GOP lawmakers in a closed door meeting.
“I came to the conclusion that this is a very dire moment – not just for Congress, not just for the Republican Party, but for our country,” Ryan said.
Ryan’s decision forced one candidate out of the race immediately.
I am out and supporting @RepPaulRyan for Speaker. Right person at the right time.
— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) October 20, 2015
Ryan’s spokesman described his closed door remarks this way in an email to reporters:
He did not announce a final decision on the speakership, but he did discuss what’s necessary, in his view, for the next speaker to be successful.First, he said our next speaker needs to be visionary: more focused on communicating our agenda and laying out big ideas. The next speaker needs to use the platform to create a clear policy choice for the country.
In addition, he told his colleagues that he encourages changes to our rules and procedures, but he also believes that those changes must be made as a team. They affect everyone, so everyone should have the opportunity for input.
As part of those rules changes, he believes there needs to be a change to the process for a motion to vacate the chair. No matter who is speaker, they cannot be successful with this weapon pointed at them all the time.
He also made clear that family comes first. And a successful speaker must be able to maintain a healthy work-family balance. Less time on the road can be compensated for with a greater focus on communicating our message to the public.
Finally, he believes that for the next speaker to be successful, we need to unify now. Unless the speaker is a unifying figure across the conference, he or she will face the same challenges that have beset our current leadership.
With that, Chairman Ryan encouraged the members to discuss and consider his requests, and he asked that they make clear whether they support them by this Friday.
If the members agree with his requests and share his vision, and if he is a unity candidate—with the endorsement of all the conference’s major caucuses—then he will serve as speaker. He will be all in.
But if he is not a unifying figure for the conference, then he will not run and will be happy to continue serving as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
Note in that statement, the part about motions to vacate the chair – that is aimed directly at Tea Party lawmakers, who threatened to use that procedural motion to force out Speaker Boehner – and who could well use it to get rid of a Speaker Ryan.
The main unknown as lawmakers left the Capitol on Tuesday night is whether those more conservative Republicans will endorse Ryan, who made clear that he doesn’t want to be threatened with removal.
“Another condition of Ryan running he doesn’t want arrows in his back,” Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) said on Twitter.
As of now, the Freedom Caucus is backing Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL) – judging from Ryan’s remarks, if Tea Party lawmakers refuse to drop that endorsement, then Ryan will not run for Speaker.
Stay tuned over the next few days.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.