BOULDER, Colorado — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, tells Breitbart News in an exclusive email interview that he thinks members of the House Freedom Caucus should consider withdrawing their previous support for a Speakership bid from Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) unless Ryan can stop the giant budget and debt ceiling deal that’s before Congress.
“If Paul Ryan votes to bust the budget caps, the public may want to reconsider whether or not he represents a step forward,” Paul, who’s close with many Freedom Caucus members, told Breitbart News. “I think this deal is a steaming pile of the same old, same old and it stinks. I don’t think you can be a fiscal conservative and support busting the budget caps. I don’t think you can be a fiscal conservative and be liberal with military spending. I think each and every conservative should ask: Does Congress hate America?”
Paul’s move to drop the gauntlet on the Freedom Caucus is extraordinarily significant.
Many members within the House Freedom Caucus have endorsed his 2016 presidential campaign, and look to him for guidance politically. For instance, Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Curt Clawson (R-FL), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Raul Labrador (R-ID) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) have all endorsed Paul for president and are all members of the House Freedom Caucus.
Mulvaney, Labrador and Amash have indicated their support for Ryan as speaker—something that at this point would put them crosswise with the person they are backing for president. Lummis hasn’t officially endorsed Ryan but has predicted publicly Ryan would win. Clawson has indicated he will not support Ryan for Speaker.
This could throw a massive monkey wrench into Ryan’s calculations. He’s already certain to lose several GOP votes for the Speakership on the floor as Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) is running against him and has the support of many conservatives and moderates alike who want to see reform in Congress, but if this situation escalates even further Ryan could be in serious trouble of losing carefully built support among Freedom Caucus members heading into Thursday.
Paul told Breitbart News in the interview, conducted over email while the senator flew from Las Vegas to Denver for a rally Tuesday ahead of Wednesday’s televised presidential debate, that he would do things much differently from how outgoing Speaker John Boehner and Ryan have done things.
“I would refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless Congress instituted Cut, Cap and Balance—which cuts deficits in half in one year, caps the spending going forward at 18 percent of GDP and passes a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution,” Paul told Breitbart News.
When asked what he thinks of Boehner breaking his Pledge to America yet again—Boehner, with Ryan’s help, is again ramming through legislation without allowing the promised 72 hours—Paul told Breitbart News that it’s “one more reason to demand new leadership.”
The Freedom Caucus technically has endorsed Daniel Webster for Speaker, but a supermajority did vote to back Ryan. Ryan did not receive the group’s official endorsement, since it would require 80 percent of its membership to have backed him. That did not happen. That means that Ryan, who pledged he would not run for Speaker without the official endorsement of the Freedom Caucus, launched his Speakership bid on a broken promise.