GOP adopts ‘Paul Ryan’ rule

House Republicans on Friday passed a “Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday Paul Ryan joins University of Notre Dame faculty MORE Rule,” but it wasn’t actually aimed at Paul Ryan.

In a closed-door meeting, Republicans adopted a new rule that would require committee chairmen to step down if they run for higher office, including president or governor.

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Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeLawmaker alleges political payback in failed 'deepfakes' measure The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Dems shift strategy for securing gun violence research funds MORE (R-Okla.), in offering the rule in the private gathering, mentioned Ryan as an example, drawing chuckles from the crowd because the Wisconsin Republican and 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate was in the room.

If Ryan decides to run for president in 2016, Cole said according to sources in the room, then he would have to step down from his post as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which he is expected to take in next Congress.

But there’s a caveat: Ryan could make his case to the Republican Steering Committee why he should remain as chairman. And the panel, which is controlled by Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTrump appears alongside Ocasio-Cortez on Time 100 list Resurrecting deliberative bodies Trump's decision on health care law puts spotlight on Mulvaney MORE (Ohio), could grant that chairman an exemption.

“In theory they would hand over the gavel,” one committee chairman told The Hill. “But they could make their argument to the Steering Committee that they’re involved in this important rewrite of the tax code, and therefore the Steering Committee could grant them a waiver.”

Senior GOP sources told The Hill that Cole’s rule was actually aimed at a fellow appropriator, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who ran for the Senate this year but lost. 

Cole, an ally of Boehner’s, was upset with Kingston, sources said, because he was spending much of the year campaigning for the Senate and not fulfilling his duties as chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on labor.

The Ryan rule would cover so-called Appropriations Committee "cardinals," who are the only subcommittee chairmen who are selected by the powerful Steering Committee. 

Asked who he had in mind when he offered his rule, Cole replied: “I’m not getting into naming names.” He later added that he was not thinking of Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, saying, “Paul will do the right thing. If he makes a decision to do something, I trust his judgment.

“If you’re running for office the presumption is that you shouldn’t be holding a gavel, because you simply can’t do your job for our conference and run for another well,” Cole said. “It just doesn’t work well.”