Speaker adds Paul Ryan to fiscal cliff team

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has tapped Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and two other senior Republicans for key roles as he prepares for negotiations on the fiscal cliff with the White House and Democratic leaders.

The Speaker is adding Ryan and Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Dave Camp (R-Mich.) to his daily management meetings “in preparation for the fiscal cliff talks,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said. Those meetings already include the top four members of the House Republican leadership team.

Ryan, the recently defeated GOP vice presidential nominee, is continuing as chairman of the House Budget Committee while Upton leads the Energy and Commerce Committee and Camp heads the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

The move comes as welcome news to House conservatives, who called on Wednesday for Ryan to take a central role in the fiscal negotiations after his stint on the Republican national ticket.

“I hope he’s front and center in this debate,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the outgoing chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. “He’s probably our best spokesperson for how serious this debt situation is.”

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said at a “Conservations with Conservatives” panel that it was announced at the House GOP’s closed-door conference meeting Wednesday morning that Ryan had been added to the leadership’s “negotiating team.”

Boehner has not announced a formal team of negotiators and is waiting on Obama to start talks. He, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are headed to the White House on Friday for an initial meeting on averting the tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect at year’s end.

Ryan received an extended standing ovation during the closed-door meeting Wednesday morning, lawmakers said, and he told his colleagues that it “was an honor” to serve on the Republican ticket during the campaign.

After the meeting, he declined to talk to reporters about the fiscal cliff, saying "there'll be plenty of time to talk about that stuff later."

Dozens of members of the Republican conference look to Ryan for guidance on budget issues, making him a crucial leader for Boehner to keep close as he negotiates an agreement with Obama.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said Ryan “is still an icon in this conference,” despite the loss of the Romney-Ryan ticket.

“We’re going to have to lay out a path to fiscal solvency, and Paul Ryan’s going to be a very important part of that,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said.

Camp is also a critical player, having worked on tax reform proposals for the past two years as Ways and Mean chairman. He has been “constantly in contact” with Boehner on tax options, said Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), a member of the panel.

— Erik Wasson contributed