Republicans express doubts that Ryan can stay on as Speaker

Speculation is growing on Capitol Hill that Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece Cutting critical family support won't solve the labor crisis Juan Williams: Trump's GOP descends into farce MORE may need to relinquish his Speaker’s gavel soon, though few Republicans are publicly calling on him to resign.

More rank-and-file Republicans predicted Friday that the Wisconsin Republican probably won’t be able to hang on to the Speaker’s job for the rest of the year, despite Ryan’s insistence a day earlier that he would stick around until January and that no one in the GOP could raise more money ahead of the crucial midterm elections later this year.

“I think there's a lot of goodwill for Paul Ryan, but I don't know if there's so much goodwill that they'll let him stay as Speaker,” said longtime Rep. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonRep. Ron Wright dies after contracting COVID-19 Biden's gain is Democratic baseball's loss with Cedric Richmond Bottom line MORE (R-Texas), the former Energy and Commerce Committee chairman who is retiring this year. “I think nobody would have a problem if he resigned the speakership and stayed in Congress to fulfill a commitment to his constituents in Wisconsin."

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“I just think the pressure is going to build for him to step aside as Speaker and then let the conference pick a new leadership team,” Barton added.

So far, few Republicans have been willing to go on the record and call for Ryan to step down, a move that would trigger new leadership elections now rather than after the Nov. 6 elections.

But conservative Rep. Tom GravesJohn (Tom) Thomas GravesGreene's future on House committees in limbo after GOP meeting McConnell says Taylor Greene's embrace of conspiracy theories a 'cancer' GOP has growing Marjorie Taylor Greene problem MORE (R-Ga.), an ally of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyMcCarthy: Pelosi appointing members of Jan. 6 panel who share 'pre-conceived narrative' Kinzinger denounces 'lies and conspiracy theories' while accepting spot on Jan. 6 panel Pelosi taps Kinzinger to serve on Jan. 6 panel MORE (R-Calif.), has publicly pushed for a new leadership team to be installed now following Ryan’s announcement this week that he’s not running for reelection this fall.

Graves met with Ryan on Thursday about the matter, The Hill confirmed. “It was a positive conversation. Rep. Graves is confident Speaker Ryan will do what’s best for the conference,” said a Graves aide.

And centrist Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerMcCarthy: Pelosi appointing members of Jan. 6 panel who share 'pre-conceived narrative' Kinzinger denounces 'lies and conspiracy theories' while accepting spot on Jan. 6 panel Pelosi taps Kinzinger to serve on Jan. 6 panel MORE (R-Ill.) told the Chicago Sun-Times it’d be better to hold those leadership elections “sooner than later.”

“It would be nice to kind of get this stuff done, because what you don’t want is about an eight-month process where people are running for Speaker because it’s very tough,” Kinzinger told the newspaper.

On Friday, a GOP lawmaker closely aligned with leadership told The Hill he, too, would like to see the succession question resolved now.

“There’s a strong sense of wanting to give Paul his breathing room and a chance to talk about his legacy,” said the GOP lawmaker. “But there is a growing sentiment in the conference that the election should be held sooner so that we don’t have a lame-duck Speaker heading into the midterms.”

It’s unclear, however, how many Republicans feel the same way. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Ryan swatted down questions of whether having an internal, seven-month-long race for Speaker would distract from GOP efforts to hold the House majority. And Ryan said that after holding numerous conversations with fellow Republicans, he had overwhelming support to remain Speaker until January.

“It makes no sense to take the biggest fundraiser off the field. And I think almost all of our members see it that way as well,” Ryan said.

Ryan’s office did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Among the many GOP lawmakers who’ve said Ryan should finish out his two-year term as Speaker were Reps. Frank LoBiondoFrank Alo LoBiondoVan Drew-Kennedy race in NJ goes down to the wire Van Drew wins GOP primary in New Jersey Amy Kennedy wins NJ primary to face GOP's Van Drew MORE (R-N.J.), Leonard LanceLeonard LanceKean Jr. to run against Malinowski: report Thomas Kean wins GOP primary to take on Rep. Tom Malinowski Gun debate to shape 2020 races MORE (R-N.J.), Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingNewsmax anchor Greg Kelly to host New York radio show Top GOP lawmakers call for Swalwell to be removed from Intelligence Committee Republican Garbarino wins election to replace retiring Rep. Pete King MORE (R-N.Y.), Walter JonesWalter JonesHillary Clinton brings up 'Freedom Fries' to mock 'cancel culture' Georgia officials open inquiry into Trump efforts to overturn election results Supreme Court declines to hear case challenging unlimited super PAC fundraising MORE (R-N.C.), Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksEx-Sen. Jones rips Mo Brooks over 'irony' remark on Texas Democrats getting COVID-19 Justice in legal knot in Mo Brooks, Trump case Schumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up MORE (R-Ala.), Mark SanfordMark SanfordTop cyber Pentagon official overseeing defense contractor project placed on leave Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote MORE (R-S.C.), Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it MORE (R-Texas) and Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloRep. Brendan Boyle decides against Pennsylvania Senate bid Pennsylvania's Democratic lt. governor files to run for Senate Bottom Line MORE (R-Pa.).

“I believe the Speaker is best-positioned to lead our conference for the rest of the session, policy-wise, and as the single best fundraiser in the history of the House Republican Conference,” Costello told The Hill. “A leadership contest in the interim is a distraction and could lead to unnecessary divisions.”

The race to replace Ryan had already been shaping up as a contest between McCarthy, Ryan’s top deputy, and Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseFauci 'heartened' to see top Republicans encouraging vaccinations DOJ won't investigate nursing home deaths in New York, other states: letter Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines MORE (R-La.), the No. 3 GOP leader, though neither has publicly declared a bid for Speaker.

Friday added a new wrinkle to the Speaker sweepstakes. Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanMcCarthy: Pelosi appointing members of Jan. 6 panel who share 'pre-conceived narrative' Pelosi taps Kinzinger to serve on Jan. 6 panel Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? MORE (R-Ohio), the former chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, said that he was mulling over a bid for the top leadership post.

Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieEthics panel upholds 0 mask fines against Greene, other GOP lawmakers House Ethics panel upholds 0 mask fines against GOP lawmakers California Democrats clash over tech antitrust fight MORE (R-Ky.), a Jordan ally who is not a Freedom Caucus member, said there’s just no way impatient Republicans can wait eight months to figure out who should be the next leader of the 237-member GOP conference.

“This just seems like such an improbable proposition, that we would have a lame-duck Speaker for eight months,” Massie said. “I don’t know if the palace can sustain that much intrigue.”

“It seems improbable that you could have this kind of vacuum.”

Melanie Zanona and Juliegrace Brufke contributed.