As Paul Ryan Faces Scrutiny, Conservative House Members Discuss Strategy Of Their Own

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress and leading conservatives met Wednesday night at a private residence to discuss options for changing direction on the policy front in the U.S. House of Representatives under Speaker Paul Ryan.

Congressmen met with veteran Washington conservatives at the inconspicuous Capitol Hill home of longtime conservative lobbyist Howard Segermark. The dinner reception was chaired by Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida. The event was the occasion for a passionate conversation attended by lawmakers and staffers alike. Merry shouts of “Order! Order!” could be heard through a street-facing window.

“We’re having a discussion about how to move things legislatively in the right direction. ‘Right’ with a capital ‘R,'” Iowa Rep. Steve King told Breitbart News on the steps of Segermark’s home.

King confirmed that the members were discussing Ryan’s leadership “on an entire list of issues” including how to stop the president’s unconstitutional amnesty program, which Ryan supported. “Amnesty is not a big one there,” said King, who suggested the rule-making efficiency of the House leadership was a primary concern.

“Andrew Breitbart would be proud of what we are doing in there,” King noted. “I’m not necessarily sure you could point to an action that happens that could be said directly came from this meeting. But it is an intellectual discussion” focused on potential action points.

King bristled at the idea that the fruits of this particular meeting would be seen on the second ballot of the presidential race in Cleveland.

“There will be results on the second ballot in Cleveland. And the result will be a Ted Cruz victory,” he said, stepping back inside.

The meeting doesn’t seem to have been about Cruz, or the possibility of a contested convention, though. That at least two conservative congressmen–and probably many more–were meeting in private about Ryan’s leadership, or lack thereof, comes at a trying time for the new Speaker of the House. Politico just reported earlier on Wednesday that Ryan is having a rough go of things as Speaker.

“Paul Ryan has had a tough couple of months,” Politico’s John Bresnahan wrote. He went on to say:

The House GOP’s response to Puerto Rico’s debt crisis is stuck, with a big May 1 deadline looming. The leadership’s 2017 budget plan is stalled. And legislation to overhaul the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t left the runway. With all the attention showered on Ryan’s non-interest in running for president, it’s easy to overlook the new speaker’s troubles running the House these days. Almost six months into the job, Ryan and his top lieutenants face questions about whether the Wisconsin Republican’s tenure atop the House is any more effective than that of his predecessor, former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Ryan has flattered the House Freedom Caucus and pursued promises to empower rank-and-file Republicans with reforms to how the House operates — yet it’s yielded little in the way of actual results.

What’s more, it’s worth noting that both King and Yoho were aligned as part of the group of members that forced Boehner to resign in lieu of being thrown out. Thus far, though, most conservatives have been unwilling to criticize Ryan for any of his transgressions–including Ryan’s support for amnesty for illegal aliens.

It’s also important to note that in particular King is not upset with Ryan or working against him.

“Paul Ryan is sticking to what I asked for which is a bottom up conference – of course we will not always agree on everything in policy but he has given conservatives a seat at the table,” King said in an added emailed statement to Breitbart News afterward. “Ryan was great to work with on the Customs Bill. We met to discuss how to reign in the Obama administration and to plan the restoration of Constitutional principles. We have multiple meetings on or near Capitol Hill to discuss strategy, conservative legislation, and to build and strengthen our networks.”