The House Freedom Caucus is almost certainly going to organize against a nascent potential House Speakership bid from House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) after he began “running his mouth” on Tuesday evening, several senior House GOP aides close to the process told Breitbart News.
Ryan’s office confirms to Breitbart News that he is unlikely to move forward with an effort to run for the Speakership if something doesn’t drastically change quickly.
“He had a shot before he started running his mouth,” one senior GOP aide to a senior House Freedom Caucus member said when reached by phone early Wednesday.
The aide said he expects that “at least 75 percent of the members are going to oppose Ryan” after what Ryan demanded from Republicans in Tuesday evening remarks and in written demands for a potential Speakership bid.
One of Ryan’s demands was a change to House rules that would significantly alter the ability for members to remove a Speaker using a “motion to vacate the chair.” That is the mechanism by which outgoing House Speaker John Boehner was pressed to resign by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and it’s one of the key checks in government that Thomas Jefferson first crafted. Ryan’s office has scrambled to explain away the demand, and downplay the significance of it, to no avail thus far.
“It’s highly unlikely that Ryan would ever be able to get 218 votes on the floor of the House,” a senior House GOP aide to an influential lawmaker outside the House Freedom Caucus told Breitbart News.
“You hear coming out of conference that half the conference that ‘hip hip hooray, Ryan is maybe going to run,’ but the other half is none too pleased,” that aide said. “How are you going to position yourself as the ‘uniter’ when a sizable portion of the conference doesn’t want you as Speaker?”
Ryan met with Freedom Caucus members in the House Ways and Means Committee hearing room in the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday late afternoon. While they are as a courtesy approached the meeting with an open mind, most familiar with the meeting told Breitbart News that Ryan has utterly failed to win over enough conservatives to get an official Freedom Caucus endorsement. Technically, to get an endorsement from the Freedom Caucus, Ryan would need 80 percent of the group’s membership to get behind him.
The chairman of the organization, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), told Roll Call there will be no change to the rules—so if Ryan can’t win 80 percent of the group, he will not get a Freedom Caucus endorsement. “The rules are the rules,” Jordan said.
And if Ryan does not get a Freedom Caucus endorsement—an official one from the group—he will not run for Speaker, his spokesman Brendan Buck confirmed to Breitbart News. “No,” Buck confirmed flatly to Breitbart News when asked if Ryan would run without an official endorsement.
Ryan is having difficulty getting just a handful of Freedom Caucus members to support him at this time, so earning enough support for an official endorsement from the group does not seem possible—especially since so many of its members are publicly lambasting Ryan in the press.
“I like Paul Ryan a lot. I like Thomas Jefferson better,” Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), someone who was previously open to a Ryan speakership, said in response to the vacate the chair condition that Ryan and his office laid out on Tuesday night according to The Hill’s Cristina Marcos.
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, compared another of Ryan’s demands—that he won’t work more than four days a week—to a job applicant giving an absurd list of requirements to a prospective employer.
“It’s like interviewing a maid for a job and she says, ‘I don’t clean windows, I don’t do floors, I don’t do beds, these are the hours I’ll work,’” Salmon, who is considering a Speakership bid himself, said. “It’s rubbing a lot of people the wrong way.”
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), another Freedom Caucus member, is publicly against Ryan as well due to his demands list.
“I don’t think the Speakership is a 9 to 5 job,” Huelskamp said according to The Hill. “You’ve got to work on weekends. John Boehner worked very hard … and I’m very concerned if you’re not going to work weekends in this job, which is primarily fundraising, then that could hurt the Republican majority.”
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), who previously called Ryan’s vacate the chair demand a “non-starter,” told The Hill that it is “presumptuous” to think Ryan is the only Republican who could get elected Speaker.
“This has never been about electing a member of the Freedom Caucus, we know we can’t get one of our members elected,” Labrador said. “But I think it’s pretty presumptuous to think that Paul Ryan is the only person who can win this.”
Complicating matters more for Ryan is that Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL)—the former Speaker of the Florida House who has already earned the official endorsement of the Freedom Caucus—is still running for Speaker, not standing down for Ryan like House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) did.
Ryan has peeled off Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), according to the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs—the only Freedom Caucus member openly supporting Ryan. With approximately 42 members in the Freedom Caucus—combined with their 80 percent rule—that means about 32 members were necessary for Webster to win the group’s endorsement. Sources in Freedom Caucus offices tell Breitbart News that Webster won the endorsement with close to the bare minimum necessary to win it—about 32 or 33 members, not the full group’s membership—so if a handful of those who backed Webster in the Freedom Caucus switch to Ryan, there will still be enough Republicans opposing Ryan on the House floor to keep him out of the Speakership.
There’s at least 25 hard no votes against Ryan in the Freedom Caucus, and add in non-Freedom Caucus conservatives including Reps. Steve King (R-IA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Thomas Massie (R-KY) and more, and there’s far more than the requisite 29 votes to keep Ryan out of the Speakership even if the Freedom Caucus pulls its official Webster endorsement.
Nonetheless, with Ryan’s office confirming he will not under any circumstances run for Speaker without an official Freedom Caucus endorsement, it’s getting more and more likely that Ryan is going to end up—as Breitbart News has reported all along—bowing out of the Speakership race by Friday.
If and when Ryan bows out, with Boehner having scheduled in conference elections for the Speakership on Wednesday next week and floor elections next Thursday, there will be a quick effort by others to run for the Speakership.
Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Bill Flores (R-TX), Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Mike McCaul (R-TX), Mike Conaway (R-TX), Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Ryan Zinke (R-MT), Darrell Issa (R-CA), and more are all considering Speakership bids.