Ryan keeps colleagues in suspense

Ryan keeps colleagues in suspense
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Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Gun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker Tim Murphy to retire at end of term MORE (R-Wis.) is signaling he’s in no hurry to end the House GOP conference’s suspense.

House Republicans are waiting on tenterhooks for Ryan to decide whether he’ll run for Speaker and fill a gaping leadership vacuum.

Ryan is under immense pressure from fellow Republicans to step up to the plate, but his spokesman signaled on Monday that Ryan’s colleagues shouldn’t hold their breath on a decision.

“Before you ask, nothing has changed and I don't anticipate any news this week,” Brendan Buck, the communications director for the House Ways and Means Committee, wrote early Monday morning on Twitter.

“Enjoy your Columbus Day,” he added. 

Ryan is spending this week’s recess in Janesville, Wis., with his family.

National media have descended on the city of 63,000 hoping to get a glimpse of Ryan and find out if the reluctant Ways and Means chairman can be convinced to succeed Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew Boehner‘Lone wolf’ characterization of mass murderers is the epitome of white privilege Pelosi urges Ryan to create select committee on gun violence Ex-congressman Michael Grimm formally announces bid for old seat MORE (R-Ohio).

Ryan has repeatedly signaled he’d rather avoid the job and keep his position as Ways and Means chairman, but that’s done nothing to stem the tide of those urging him to help his party.

Some Republicans are thinking up creative ideas to try to coax Ryan on.

“They are running a ton of stuff up the flagpole to see what works,” said one former GOP leadership aide.

Because Ryan would rather keep his current job, some have speculated he could be convinced to be Speaker on a “caretaker” basis through 2016 — an idea derided by others.

Another idea is to appoint a deputy to the Speaker who could fundraise so that Ryan could spend more time in Janesville with his family. 

Ryan is seen as the House Republican most able to unite a rancorous conference. Still, the same conservatives who pushed John BoehnerJohn Andrew Boehner‘Lone wolf’ characterization of mass murderers is the epitome of white privilege Pelosi urges Ryan to create select committee on gun violence Ex-congressman Michael Grimm formally announces bid for old seat MORE out of the job and led Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to abruptly drop out of the race aren’t rallying around him.

Members of the Freedom Caucus, for now, are standing by their endorsement of Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), a former Florida state House Speaker who won just 12 votes against Boehner in January. 

Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said on “Fox News Sunday” that his group isn’t sold on Ryan yet.

“I think our group would be favorable toward him, but we’re not there yet,” Jordan said. 

Webster is still making phone calls to colleagues asking for their support, his office said. Unlike House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzOvernight Finance: Trump pitches massive tax cuts | Freedom Caucus endorses plan | Dems slam framework | House GOP to move B border wall bill | Officials under fire for private jet use GOP lawmaker pushes to end sports leagues' tax-exempt status Republicans predict Senate ObamaCare repeal would pass House MORE (R-Utah), who said he will drop out if Ryan runs, Webster isn’t shaping his plans around anyone else at this point.

Ryan is seen as unwilling to make significant concessions to the Freedom Caucus to win their votes ahead of an election.

And some of his supporters argue the House GOP would only be hurting itself if members put hurdles in his way.

“It would be a major mistake for the conference to try to handcuff him,” said former Minnesota Rep. Vin Weber, a longtime Ryan friend and national co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

“If they want to have their most talented, most visible member as the leader of their conference, they better take him on his terms,” he said.

It’s unclear, however, if such arguments will resonate with conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus. Some of them, for example, have criticized Ryan’s vote for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) that propped up big banks in the middle of the 2008 financial crisis.

While Ryan mulls his options, other Republicans considering leadership runs such as Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill FloresBill FloresGun proposal picks up GOP support Gingrich: Banning rapid fire gun modification is ‘common sense’ GOP lawmaker to unveil bill banning gun bump stocks MORE (R-Texas), Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) and Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) are in limbo.

Once the House returns next Tuesday from recess, Republicans will have just two weeks before Boehner's preferred timeframe to leave Congress at the end of the month. 

“I feel bad for him,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said of Ryan Monday on Fox News’s “Outnumbered.” “It’s kind of the biblical burden of the time, right? He knows he’s the only guy who can bring us together.”

“If you can’t accept Paul Ryan, I don’t know how we get through this.”

—Megan R. Wilson contributed.