Ryan, McCarthy push back on reports of leadership coup

Ryan, McCarthy push back on reports of leadership coup
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanCorey Stewart fires aide who helped bring far-right ideas to campaign: report GOP super PAC hits Randy Bryce with ad starring his brother Super PACs spend big in high-stakes midterms MORE (R-Wis.) on Tuesday pushed back against reports that some Republicans want him to give up the gavel before November, arguing that holding leadership elections before the midterms would be “divisive” for the GOP conference.

“Obviously I serve at the pleasure of the members. Those are the people who drafted me in this job in the first place,” Ryan told reporters. “But I think we all agree, the best thing for us is to complete our agenda and not wedge into the middle of the completion of our agenda divisive leadership elections.”

The Weekly Standard reported over the weekend that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil GOP: The economy will shield us from blue wave Jordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker MORE (R-Calif.) and some White House officials were weighing an effort to push out Ryan before he retires in January so that McCarthy could take over as Speaker. That plan would also put Democrats on the record voting for Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDem lawmakers slam Trump’s declassification of Russia documents as ‘brazen abuse of power’ Russia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems Pelosi calls on Ryan to bring long-term Violence Against Women Act to floor MORE (D-Calif.) before the midterms.

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Office of Management and Budget Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyPoll: Cruz up 9 in Texas Senate race Financial policymakers must be suffering from amnesia On The Money: Broad coalition unites against Trump tariffs | Senate confirms new IRS chief | Median household income rose for third straight year in 2017 | Jamie Dimon's brief battle with Trump MORE appeared to back up some of the reporting during a conference sponsored by The Weekly Standard, saying he has discussed the idea of Ryan handing over the gavel to his successor before November.

"I've talked with Kevin about this privately but not as much publicly,” Mulvaney reportedly said. “Wouldn't it be great to force a Democrat running in a tight race to have to put up or shut up about voting for Nancy Pelosi eight weeks before an election? That's a really, really good vote for us to force if we can figure out how to do it."

McCarthy vehemently denied the report on Tuesday.

“I read that report. That report is not true,” McCarty said, standing alongside Ryan. “I think you’re building something in that’s not out there. But I understand the job you have to do. I just think if you look at what we’re doing this week … it’s a clear example that none of that is true.”

There is a sense among some Republicans that Ryan’s power over the Republican conference has been waning since he announced his retirement in April. Conservatives tanked a GOP farm bill last week, while centrist Republicans are trying to force immigration votes with a discharge petition. 

But Ryan argued that legislation sometimes fails — including the last farm bill — and also pointed out that the House is poised to pass prison reform, "right to try" legislation, Dodd-Frank reform and a massive defense policy bill this week.

“Look at what we’re doing just this week. That’s four things just this week,” Ryan said.

But, according to Republicans who attended a GOP conference meeting on Tuesday, Ryan expressed frustration behind closed doors with both the farm bill fiasco and the insurgent effort to force immigration votes

“He was frustrated … I think he used the word 'crap' once. For Paul Ryan, 'crap' is pretty blue language,” said Rep. Mark AmodeiMark Eugene AmodeiRevitalize our defense industrial base with mine permitting reform To reduce China's leverage, rebuild America's minerals supply chain GOP staves off immigration revolt — for now MORE (R-Nev.). “He said we need to start acting like we’re in charge of the place and being divided doesn’t help.”

Sources said Ryan during the meeting highlighted some of the GOP’s accomplishments and urged unity among Republicans, saying it’s critical that they come together as a team.

After his remarks, everyone stood up and applauded, according to a person inside the room.