House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-WI has secured the votes and endorsement he requested as a condition for him to run for Speaker of the House and he has officially announced his candidacy for the post. Ryan sent a letter to the House of Representatives GOP conference on Thursday evening, Oct. 22, 2015 notifying and officially announcing his plans to run for Speaker of the House. Earlier in the day, Ryan had secured the last endorsement from the third House GOP faction, and with that enough votes to become speaker. On Tuesday evening, Oct. 20, Ryan met with the GOP caucuses negotiating with them the terms of his running for speaker, most important he wanted the support and unity of his party behind him.
Ryan sent his letter to the GOP conference formally announcing his candidacy Thursday evening. In the letter, Ryan reiterated his position about being a unifier for the party, “I never thought I’d be speaker. But I pledged to you that if I could be a unifying figure, then I would serve – I would go all in. After talking with so many of you, and hearing your words of encouragement, I believe we are ready to move forward as a one, united team. And I am ready and eager to be our speaker.”
Ryan secured the last endorsement of the three caucuses on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 22, 2015 with hours to spare before his Friday deadline. The 170 members of the conservative Republican Study Caucus (RSC) was the last to endorse Ryan, even though Ryan is a member of that caucus. RSC Chairman Bill Flores of Texas spoke of highly of Ryan, “After hearing Paul lay out his vision for the future of the Republican conference, I am confident that he is the right person to lead the House going forward. He has the policy expertise, conservative principles and strong values we need in our next Speaker.” Flores had considered running if Ryan would not have chosen to run.
The 50 member Tuesday Group is the most moderate of caucuses and the Republican Study Committee endorsed Ryan early Thursday morning after meeting. In their statement the group expressed, “Paul has long been a thoughtful leader and reformer in Washington, a unifier in the House Republican caucus. We are pleased to announce that the Tuesday Group Caucus endorses Paul Ryan for Speaker.” The group decided to hold off their endorsement until after the RFC had voted to not dissuade the Freedom Caucus’ support.
Ryan had one failure in his request the 40 member Republican Freedom Caucus (RFC) did not endorse him. On Wednesday evening, Oct. 21 the caucus voted and Ryan only received a supermajority support, but not the 80 percent necessary for a formal endorsement. According to the Hill two-thirds of the caucus decided to change their minds from their original pledge of support to Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), Webster still has not withdrawn from the race.
Only 70 percent of the caucus voted for Ryan, still Ryan decided it was enough to move forward with quest for the speakership. The few Freedom Caucus members that did not vote for Ryan felt he had not been committed enough and vague in his intentions to changes the House rules that they have been adamant about.
Ryan had met with them on Tuesday, Politico recounted that he was open to many of Republican Freedom Caucus’ demands for “internal rules and procedural” changes including keeping to the Hastert Rule requiring the majority party’s support for a bill to move forward and pass. Ryan also was supportive of changes that would give to committee chairmen more power, and willing to “spread power around the conference more.” Ryan also promised not to put an immigration reform bill to vote during the remainder of the 114th Congress.
Ryan first announced on Tuesday evening, Oct. 20, 2015 that he would run for speaker if his conditions were met, the most important he wanted to be a unity candidate and requested support from all three GOP factions in the House. Ryan had said at his press conference, “We as a conference should unify now. What I told members is, if you can agree to these requests and if I can truly be a unifying figure, then I will gladly serve, and if I am not unifying, that is fine as well – I will be happy to stay where I am.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH announced on Sept. 25 his decision to resign as speaker and from his House seat on Oct. 30. The house has been in chaos since heir apparent House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s, R-CA abrupt withdrawal from the race. The only name that Republicans considered as a consensus candidate who would be able to garner the 218 votes necessary was Ryan.
After McCarthy withdrew Boehner personally asked Ryan to run, but the former 2012 Republican Vice Presidential nominee was reluctant because of his young family and the time commitment involved in being speaker and the turbulence Boehner faced with Freedom Caucus’ constant revolts. Part of the reason for Ryan’s reluctance was his presidential aspirations; only one Speaker of House went on to become president, James K. Polk, and that was in 1844, 170 years ago, in a vastly different America and political climate. Now the speaker is usually one of the country’s most hated politicians despite being second in line to the presidency.
Boehner has set Oct. 28 as the date for Republicans to vote on Speaker and then the whole House will follow the next day voting on Oct. 29. With the support of Republican conference behind him, and no objections for House Minority Leader and Democratic head Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, Ryan’s election is all but a formality. The next challenge comes with leading the House on vital debt ceiling and budget votes that are necessary to pass by year’s end.