House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) may replace Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as the new speaker of the House, according to a report from Politico.
Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) told a Nevada local politics radio show on Monday that the Capitol Hill rumor mill suggests that Majority Whip Scalise will replace the current speaker, Paul Ryan.
AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, denied the rumor, saying, “The speaker is not resigning.”
A Scalise staffer later suggested that the majority whip was “proud to serve alongside Speaker Ryan and fully supports him to remain speaker.”
Scalise added in a statement:
Our whole leadership team is focused on working with President Trump to deliver more conservative wins for the country, and also ensuring that we keep the majority so we can continue implementing President Trump’s agenda that is getting our economy back on track.
However, in an interview on Tuesday, Scalise admitted he would like to serve as speaker of the House.
I wouldn’t rule it out. Obviously, I’ve shown interest in the past at moving up. I’ve enjoyed being in leadership. I feel like I’ve had a strong influence on some of the things that we’ve done, and I’ve helped put together coalitions to pass a full repeal of Obamacare.
The Lousiana Republican continued, arguing that much of the speculation amounts to palace intrigue:
It’s easy to get drawn into the palace intrigue and speculation. But if you do that, you truly will lose focus on what your mission is, and that is working with President Trump to advance a conservative agenda. The stakes are way too high for us to lose sight of what we need to do right now.
In February, Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) introduced Scalise to his donors as the “next speaker.”
Colby Hale, Williams’s chief of staff, added that the comment was “lighthearted” but then added that “if and when Speaker Ryan decides it’s time to no longer be speaker, Congressman Williams thinks Whip Scalise would be a natural leader to step up.”
Speaker Ryan has denied rumors for months that he might retire at the end of his congressional term in 2018. In December, Paul Ryan, a Never Trump Republican, denied that he would retire, simply stating, “I’m not, no.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders informed reporters that President Trump would be very upset if Ryan were to retire.
Sanders told reporters, “The president did speak to the speaker not too long ago.” She said that President Trump “made sure that the speaker knew very clearly and in no uncertain terms that if that news was true, he was very unhappy with it.”