Republican Congressman Thomas Massie says Speaker Paul Ryan does not presently have his vote for House Speaker. Massie further indicated that if no conservative steps up to run to fill Ryan’s job, he’d be open to doing it himself.
“We need change,” Massie explained. “If it came to that, I would do it.”
“In just a few days [November 15th] there’ll be the nomination, and the constitutional election will happen on January 3rd. Presently Paul Ryan does not have my vote,” Massie said in a podcast with Reason’s Nick Gillespie.
When Gillespie pressed him on whether he would run to fill Speaker Ryan’s job himself, Massie said: “Somebody has to. I’m not saying I will do it, but we need change. I would rather give my vote to somebody who will support the platform [that upholds regular order], but if it came to that, I would do it.”
The nation is facing “a constitutional crisis… thanks to Paul Ryan,” Massie explained:
The next Speaker needs to let Congress debate whether we should be involved in all these military conflicts. We’ve got a constitutional crisis right now thanks to John Boehner and thanks to Paul Ryan, where we’re involved in military conflicts around the globe that have not been authorized by Congress, and these are not short term conflicts.
While Massie noted that his own opposition to Ryan’s Speakership stems largely from procedural issues rather than specific policies, other conservative lawmakers have expressed concern that Ryan’s policy agenda, as well as his demonstrations of poor leadership throughout the election season, have made him unfit to run the Republican party in Congress.
In particular, some lawmakers have pointed to Ryan’s efforts to seemingly undermine Trump’s campaign. Last month, Congressman Mark Meadows said that a lot of conservatives “question the loyalty of the Speaker” in light of Ryan’s treatment of Trump and said that the push to remove Ryan as Speaker was “picking up some steam.”
Moreover, on particular policies, while Ryan himself has acknowledged that Trump has “earned a mandate” from the American people, Trump was given a “mandate” to enact policies that stand in direct opposition to Ryan’s personal agenda on pivotal issues like trade, immigration, and crime.
For instance, Trump ran on a platform of immigration controls, whereas Ryan has been an active champion of open borders. According to Pew polling data, 92 percent of the GOP electorate oppose Ryan’s vision for expanding immigration levels and instead want to see immigration levels frozen or reduced.
Similarly, Trump ran against globalist trade policies, whereas Ryan supports the multinational trade policies backed by the Republican Party’s donor class. Ryan even worked as President Obama’s “partner” to fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. According to polling data from a recent POLITICO Pro-Harvard survey, 85 percent of GOP voters disagree with Speaker Ryan’s vision on the issue of trade and believe that so-called “free trade” has lost the U.S. more jobs than it has created.
Massie told Gillespie that, while he was not initially a Trump supporter, he “decided to get on the Trump train” after he became the party’s nominee.
“Trump may have been the only one [of the 17 Republican candidates] on that stage who could win Pennsylvania and Michigan while not losing Florida. And it’s got some interesting ramifications for the Republican party,” Massie said. Trump’s victory “represents an implosion of the Republican party and maybe a realignment.”
There has been a religion in the Republican Party and it’s called free trade and if you did anything to question some of the trade deals you immediately got branded as a protectionist… there’s always sort of been this holier-than-thou, “you’re a protectionist” if you start talking about the rules of trade… [But] Trump captured Pennsylvania, and Michigan and Ohio—the Rust Belt, if you will—by talking about this issue and challenging some of those assumptions.
Indeed, by running against Speaker Ryan’s agenda on trade, immigration, and crime, Trump was not only able to win the presidential election (which Ryan was unable to do when he was on the GOP ticket), but he was also able to win Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin (which Ryan was also unable to do when he was on the GOP ticket).
Trump now “has a mandate,” Massie said — particularly on the issue of immigration and building a wall along the southern border. Massie explained that if Congress were to get in Trump’s way on this issue, he believes “the next stage will be pitchforks and torches in Washington.”
I think there are a couple things that Trump has to do and if he doesn’t do these things, or if Congress gets in the way of him doing these things, the next stage will be pitchforks and torches in Washington D.C. One of those things is repeal and replace Obamacare… The other thing I think… is I think he’s got to start building a wall. He’s got a mandate there… he said he was going to build a wall, he got elected with over 300 electoral votes and I think it’s going to start happening or else some people are going to be very upset.
In recent days, Ryan has ducked answering questions about whether he will now champion Trump’s proposed border wall along the southern border. Ryan has also not said whether, in light of Trump’s “mandate,” he now recants his former statements denouncing Trump’s plan to enforce immigration law and allow ICE officers to do their job by removing individuals in the country unlawfully.
“I was not surprised [when Trump won],” Massie said. “And let me tell you something that really insults me and most of middle America: is when the media keeps calling it a stunning upset. How can it be a stunning upset if fully half of the country thought that he could or would win? It’s not a stunning upset. What’s stunning is their inability to get outside of their bubble and see that he could win—and that’s not even stunning that’s just par for the course.”
For his part, Ryan seemed to express surprise in the aftermath of Trump’s victory, declaring: “Donald Trump heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard.”
By “no one else,” Ryan seems to be referring to beltway elites and party insiders, including himself, who failed to listen to the people’s desires on some of the most seminal issues addressed during the election and who instead championed open borders trade and immigration policies opposed by the Republican and American electorate.
It is unclear whether the House Freedom Caucus, led by Jim Jordan, will support Ryan and allow him to remain as the Republican leader in Congress given the fact that Ryan stands opposed to roughly 9 in 10 GOP voters on the key issues of immigration and trade.