October 22, 2019

Majority of House Freedom Caucus supports PAUL RYAN

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A critical faction of conservative lawmakers voted Wednesday to support Rep. Paul Ryan for House speaker, a move that appears to cement Ryan’s status as the one who will replace John Boehner.

The House Freedom Caucus met for nearly two hours before exiting with an announcement that two-thirds of their members voted to support Ryan, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee and was the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee.

Freedom Caucus members said since Ryan did not win the vote of 80 percent of their caucus, they would not officially endorse him, but that he has the votes to win the speaker’s gavel.

“If Paul wants to become speaker, he has the votes on the floor to become speaker,” Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., said after the meeting.

The vote may clear the way for Ryan to officially seek the gavel after telling lawmakers on Tuesday he would only run only if he received endorsements from House factions, including the Freedom Caucus.

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said Ryan won the support of most caucus members because he showed a willingness to work with conservatives, who want changes made to the House rules that would give them more of a voice as they consider legislation.

“I think we are sending a message to the conference, and to Paul Ryan, that he has good support, but that we will continue to ask for the changes that we are asking for,” Labrador said.

A spokesman for Ryan did not reply to a request for a comment about the Freedom Caucus decision to support him, but not officially endorse him.

Labrador said while the caucus supports Ryan, they do not back the set of conditions he outlined to Republicans in exchange for his agreement to run for the post. Among those conditions is a requirement that lawmakers can not easily call a vote to oust the speaker, but Freedom Caucus members said the disagreement over the conditions could be worked out “in due time.”

The group issued a statement praising Ryan after adjourning the meeting.

“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 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.”

The Freedom Caucus meeting followed a private meeting with Paul Wednesday afternoon in his small office suite located near the House chamber.

Ryan fielded questions from the group, which earlier this month endorsed Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla. for speaker, citing Webster’s pledge to overhaul the House rules and rid the GOP leadership of its top-down management style.

“He satisfied many of us that he was willing to change business as usual Washington D.C.,” Mulvaney said. “Paul has the credibility to change things.”

But some Freedom Caucus lawmakers said Wednesday that they continue to endorse Webster and remain unconvinced Ryan is the best candidate for speaker.

“I was unconvinced by his presentation, and I’m not certain how the House would be run differently,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan. “There were a group of us.”

Huelskamp said Ryan needed to provide more details about how the House procedures would change, including an end to retribution against members for voting against the leadership. Huelskamp lost two committee assignments stripped from him by House Speaker John Boehner.

“I’m supporting Dan Webster,” Huelskamp said.

Ryan will meet with the moderate GOP faction on Thursday. He told lawmakers Tuesday he needed to know by the end of the week whether he has the backing of all the significant House factions before officially declaring his candidacy for House speaker.

Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, who is a Freedom Caucus member, said Paul appealed to lawmakers by laying out a positive vision for the party and showing he can handle the job of chief spokesman. Lawmakers found that quality lacking in House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who was forced to abandon his bid for speaker earlier this month after badly flubbing an interview about the House panel investigating the Benghazi terrorist attacks.

“I think we need someone who can go out and sell our conservative Republican principles to the average working American,” Blum said. “I think Paul would do a good job with that part of it.”

Following the meeting of the House Freedom Caucus, Ryan tweeted out a statement:

“I’m grateful for the support of a supermajority of the House Freedom Caucus. I look forward to hearing from the other two caucuses by the end of the week, but I believe this is a positive step toward a unified Republican team,” he said.

Source: Washington Examiner

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