Ryan has votes to become Speaker

The House Freedom Caucus (HFC) stopped short of formally endorsing Rep. Paul Ryan for Speaker on Wednesday but said a “super-majority” of the group backs him, handing the Wisconsin Republican enough votes to win the top leadership post.
About two-thirds of the conservative group backs Ryan for the Speakership — just shy of the 80 percent threshold needed for the caucus to issue a formal endorsement, said Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), a co-founder and spokesman for the roughly 40-member bloc of conservatives.
“A super-majority of the Freedom Caucus has agreed to support Paul Ryan,” Labrador told reporters after an hour-long, closed-door caucus meeting. “The ball is now in Paul Ryan’s court.”
{mosads}Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee who has served for the past year in his dream job as Ways and Means Committee chairman, said he was grateful for the overwhelming support from the Freedom Caucus and signaled he was moving forward with his bid.
“I look forward to hearing from the other two caucuses by the end of the week, but I believe this is a positive step toward a unified Republican team,” Ryan said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Ryan said he wouldn’t launch a bid for Speaker unless he won endorsements from three major GOP caucuses: the HFC, Republican Study Committee (RSC) and the centrist Tuesday Group.
Both the RSC and Tuesday Group are expected to back Ryan. He meets with the Tuesday Group at 10 a.m. on Thursday.
“My guess is he could still get 230-plus votes, and in this environment that is remarkable,” Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.), a Ryan backer and a member of the GOP leadership team, told The Hill on Wednesday night.
“He’s the best person to lead us forward, and despite some of the media portrayal, he has repeatedly expressed a willingness to change the way we do business,” Messer added.
Outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) set an internal election to nominate his successor for Oct. 29, with a formal floor vote a day later. Boehner said he plans to resign from Congress in the middle of his third term as Speaker on Oct. 30 after the HFC threatened to force a vote to remove him from power.
Numerous HFC members predicted Wednesday’s vote would be the last the group will take on the question of Ryan’s speakership.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) said Ryan now has sufficient support to win the Speakership — he needs just 218 votes to win a simple majority of the entire House.
HFC members said they did not accede to one of Ryan’s key demands: watering down a procedural tactic that allows members to call for a vote to oust a sitting Speaker. 
But lawmakers exiting Wednesday night’s meeting said they had no problem with Ryan’s request to cut back on weekend fundraising trips to spend time with his young family.
There is some disagreement within the HFC about what Wednesday’s vote means for the group’s earlier endorsement of Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.). Amash, another HFC co-founder, said the caucus has not strayed from its initial position.
“We haven’t rescinded our endorsements, but we’ve made a statement of support” for Ryan, Amash said.
Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), however, interpreted Wednesday’s actions differently, saying the Webster endorsement “is negated by this” vote on Ryan.
Ryan received roughly 70 percent of the HFC votes, according to several lawmakers. That falls short of the 80 percent threshold to formally endorse a candidate, Amash said, but he called it “a high number.”
“Paul appears to have sufficient support to become the next Speaker of the House, even if there is a minority of House Freedom Caucus members who don’t support his bid,” Amash added. “He’ll have to make the decision on how he proceeds.”
Fleming agreed.
“We have a supermajority that’s supporting him, will vote for him,” he said. “Whether he moves forward is up to him.”
Fleming clarified that the figures represent the percentages of the total number of HFC members, not just those in attendance Wednesday night. He put the total membership of the group at 39 lawmakers, with Wednesday’s attendance in “the 30s.”
Amash said, “Roughly all of our members voted. … It’s possible there was a member or two that was absent today.” He said he doesn’t know the exact number of votes Ryan fell short, but “it’s a small number.”
The HFC released a statement Wednesday night calling Ryan “a policy entrepreneur who has developed conservative reforms dealing with a wide variety of subjects.”
“While no consensus exists among members of the House Freedom Caucus regarding Chairman Ryan’s preconditions for serving,” the group said, “we believe that these issues can be resolved within our Conference in due time.”
Updated at 9:38 p.m.
Tags House Freedom Caucus Paul Ryan

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video