One Republican close to Ryan said that the only scenario in which Ryan might end up as speaker is if he were to be selected by unanimous acclamation, not subject to bargaining with the Freedom Caucus. This Republican demanded anonymity to discuss private considerations.
But haggling over policy, one Republican said Sunday, was inevitable.
To un-stick the House from the muck of intractable conflict, Ryan would have to make deals with members of both parties on raising the debt ceiling, passing a budget and more, said one Republican who supports him.
"If he does those things, he will have his legs taken out by some of his own members. We all know that," Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., said on NBC's "Meet the Press." ''He's going to have the same problems that John Boehner had and Kevin McCarthy was about to experience."
Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho agreed that it's possible that he and other members of the House Freedom Caucus would support Ryan or others. But first, Labrador said, any candidate needs to talk to the caucus and address the concern that the speaker should more effectively push the Republicans' agenda before making deals
"It's not about the who, it's about the what," Labrador told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. "What are we going to do in the House to change the culture? What are we going to do so we can get 247 Republicans together on the same page?"
Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., said he, too, would consider voting for Ryan. "First, he's got to make a decision to run," Mulaney said. "And then I think he's got to convince me and some other folks that if he were in charge, that the place would be different."
Even Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who launched a bid for speaker late last week, said he could be open to the prospect of Ryan as speaker.
"We allow these good bills and ideas to percolate from the bottom up, rather than the top down-driven process where the speaker is telling the body what to do," Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said on ABC's "This Week."
"I think the speaker works for the conference, the House Republicans," he said.
Members of the GOP establishment remained squarely behind Ryan. One, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, tried to downplay the differences between factions and appealed for calm.
"Our disagreements tend to be tactical, not theological. We actually believe in the same thing," Cole said on CNN. "It's not like we're going to be without a speaker
I'm somewhat dismayed that the party has the chance to vote in one of the most powerful persons in the world and can't quite put it together in spite of zero opposition from the Dems.
Ryan, however, has cleverly turned the tables. By laying out the conditions under which he would be willing to serve as speaker – some of which conservatives in the House have already said are “non-starters” – he has essentially forced the hard right of the party to reject him. It’s not hard to imagine that in his ideal world, Ryan gets to stay at Ways and Means and the House Freedom Caucus takes the blame for any chaos that follows a hurried search for another speaker.
Ward said there had been some hope that Ryan might propose new rules decentralizing power in the House – one of the core demands of the Freedom Caucus.
“But instead, he comes out and throws his gauntlet down, says ‘Follow me, be obedient or I’m not running’,” Ward said. “What we don’t need is a more capable John Boehner.”
I'm somewhat dismayed that the party has the chance to vote in one of the most powerful persons in the world ...
You can read Ryan’s demands two ways, and both of them may be right. One reading is that he actually doesn’t want to be speaker, so he’s drafted conditions that ensure he won’t actually have to be speaker. Given that Ryan firmly and repeatedly refused to run for the position and only reconsidered after massive pressure from his colleagues, that seems the likeliest explanation — these conditions let Ryan avoid the speakership but put the blame on the House Freedom Caucus.
The other way to read the demands is Ryan is trying to split the House Freedom Caucus by testing what their insurgency was really about in the first place. Boehner, though a well-liked figured in the conference, wasn’t considered an ideological warrior in the way Ryan is. While some conservatives believe Ryan has been tainted by fame and establishment acceptance in recent years — they liked Ryan before he was cool, man — there are plenty who still idolize the man who reoriented the Republican Party around budgets that privatize Medicare, block grant Medicaid, and take a chainsaw to discretionary spending. Many of them might have opposed Boehner without ever expecting him to resign — they wanted to be heard by the regime, not to overturn it. Like the dog that caught the car, some of them may not even really be sure what a good-enough outcome of their insurgency would be, and they may be looking for a way out; Ryan is giving them that way.
For too long, reporters have been bamboozled by Ryan, who claims to be a both a budget expert and something of a social philosopher. But he's just a slick talker who appears to have flunked basic math in high school or college, because his budget numbers never add up.
Damn, even by Republican standards, Paul Ryan is an arrogant S.O.B., drunk on years of flatterers telling him tales about how he’s so much smarter than the real world evidence suggests. After a couple of weeks of playing up his reluctance to be House Speaker, Ryan has descended from the mountain to issue the list of his conditions that must be met until he’ll deign to take on one of the most powerful political offices on the planet. The conditions include some empty, high-minded language about being a more effective party, but also a couple of very specific, presumptuous demands: That the party unify behind him and oh, yeah, he doesn’t work weekends because he likes to spend time with his family. This from a guy who happily lectures the rest of the country about how our desire to have a life outside of work means we’re lazy.
That Ryan thinks he’s in a position to issue such haughty demands isn’t really that much of a surprise.
Being a smart policy wonk, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) realized that Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had failed to read the fine print on the House rules. This is why McCarthy, the once sure bet for Speaker, got knocked over by the House Freedom Caucus feather waving and the guy the talk show vigilantes disparaged as a sellout will get the Speaker’s job with the Freedom Caucus’s overwhelming support. How did this happen?
For weeks the Freedom Caucus held the Republican House Conference hostage by saying it was willing to use a WMD, aka A Motion To Vacate the Chair. This little known rule supposedly gave about 40 “my way or the highway” self-styled conservative revolutionaries a procedural weapon to force any Republican to kiss their ring if he or she wanted to remain in the Speaker’s chair. The press, pundits and the other 246 members of the House Republican Conference accepted this claim.
But Ryan asked himself: How can such a small group, consisting of politicians unknown to most Americans, make such ultimatums? He therefore sat down, not with a calculator but with a pencil, and worked the numbers the old-fashioned way. A Motion to Vacate the Chair requires a simple majority of the House members voting. If it passes, the Speaker would be toppled. Thus the Freedom Caucus gave its fellow Republicans the following choice: we might let you pick a Speaker we don’t like but we reserve the right to help the Democrats topple him whenever we feel aggrieved. Who would want the job, already thankless, with a WMD wielded by angry backbenchers hanging over his or her head? Political observers said the Freedom Caucus had outfoxed everyone.
Ryan, however, realized the Freedom Caucus had a Weapon of Mass Delusion, not Destruction. Why did he call their bluff?
Basic math. It is true that on paper, adding the Freedom Caucus loyalists to the Democratic House minority comprises a majority of the body’s members. This seemingly gives a Freedom Caucus-Democratic alliance the votes to deploy the WMD at will.
But it is most unsophisticated political vote-counting. This is why Ryan made a brilliant misdirection move, worthy of a great magician, by seeming to demand the Freedom Caucus agree to rules changes making the Motion To Vacate harder to employ as his price for running for Speaker. The experts said this was Ryan's why of agreeing to help his Party in need but setting up a pre-condition he knew couldn't be met. As expected, the Freedom Caucus said no. The talk show vigilantes laughed at Ryan, saying his candidacy was now DOA unless he agreed to swallow a poison pill. Ryan's allies were thus surprised when he agreed to drop demands to make the Motion To Vacate harder to deploy against him.
Had the Wisconsinite gone crazy? Like a fox.
Now do the math like a pro. For the conservative rebels to succeed, they need Democrats to do the following: in front of the American people, accept responsibility for throwing the House of Representatives into chaos by getting on the Freedom Caucus crazy train for selfish political reasons. Why would Democrats, who are pitching themselves as the party able to govern, risk getting blamed for this governing mess? It is one thing for Democrats to trip-up the GOP without being seen as playing politics. But there is no benefit to the Democrats to brazenly, in full public view, provide the overwhelming majority of votes to derail the system.
Why would Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the shrewdest card player on the Democratic side, kiss the ring of the Freedom Caucus after waiting an hour for a crowd to gather?
Right now, the mess in the House is seen rightly as the fault of the GOP majority. Its actions have driven the Congress’s image into the Capitol Hill ditch. It is their Speakership problem, not the Democrats’. Ryan got it right: The Motion to Vacate the Chair isn’t a bunker buster, but a fool maker.
The future Speaker knows that the former Speaker is never going to provide the votes to enable the Freedom Caucus to create havoc. Why would the Freedom Caucus believe that Pelosi would actually help the most ardent conservative Republicans achieve victory? It suggests the depths to which these self-proclaimed rebels have sunk in their unthinking. Democrats will, indeed should, do all they can to make Republicans foils for the next election. That’s good politics.
But they can't light themselves on fire in full public view.
The country is looking for problem solvers, not problem makers. Yes, the Motion To Vacate The Chair is a WMD if loaded with Democratic ammo. But what would possess Democrats to strap themselves to the device and let Republicans blow them all up?
Ironically the conservative rebels have some legitimate proposals to make the House of Representatives more democratic. We would urge Speaker Ryan to consider certain needed reforms. Given how he outfoxed the Freedom Caucus, he can do it without being seen as buying a ticket on their crazy train