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Paul Ryan’s successor must embrace the House Freedom Caucus

Paul Ryan’s successor must embrace the House Freedom Caucus
© Greg Nash

House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBiden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day Revising the pardon power — let the Speaker and Congress have voices MORE (R-Wis.) picked quite the week to announce his retirement in January. In the past couple days, the FBI raided the office and hotel room of President TrumpDonald TrumpMcCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden Biden, Trudeau agree to meet next month Trump planned to oust acting AG to overturn Georgia election results: report MORE’s personal lawyer, tensions heated up over potential U.S. airstrikes in Syria, and Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Biden names acting chairs to lead FCC, FTC | Facebook to extend Trump ban pending review | Judge denies request for Amazon to immediately restore Parler Facebook to extend Trump ban pending review Facebook has no current plan to end the Trump suspension MORE wore a suit for probably the first time since his high school prom.

While Speaker Ryan’s announcement sent shockwaves through the Republican Party, the truth is, there is no hurry to pick an immediate successor to his leadership position.

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Republicans have the rest of the year to continue fighting for their legislative agenda and to defend their majorities in the House and Senate. Speaker Ryan will be in his office to guide the GOP through the rest of the year, as normal.

Speaker Ryan’s retirement is not a threat to the GOP, it’s an opportunity. Republicans have time to choose wisely, and they need to make the most of it.

Fiscal conservatives will always tip their hats to Speaker Ryan for overseeing a historic tax code overhaul that continues to boost the middle class and grow the economy. However, tax reform was only half the battle.

House Republicans must select leadership that will consistently fight to “drain the swamp,” cut spending, and return Congress to regular order. The right candidates will have a plan to end the destructive cycle of omnibus spending deals, and the courage to stand up to Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8 Democrats float 14th Amendment to bar Trump from office Biden signals he's willing to delay Trump trial MORE (R-Ky.) and the other big spenders in the Senate.

The next speaker must embrace the House Freedom Caucus as a key constituency in the Republican majority. If this legislative cycle is any indication, the House Freedom Caucus and other like-minded House conservatives are the future of the GOP.

FreedomWorks was proud to fight alongside legislative entrepreneurs like Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ-05), who championed a "Right to Try" bill that preserves the fundamental right for people on their death beds to fight for their lives.

Our community of grassroots conservatives enthusiastically supported key influencers in the GOP leadership like Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyK Street navigates virtual inauguration week Growing number of lawmakers test positive for COVID-19 after Capitol siege Overnight Health Care: US sets record for daily COVID-19 deaths with over 3,800 | Hospitals say vaccinations should be moving faster | Brazilian health officials say Chinese COVID vaccine 78 percent effective MORE, who helped pass the ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ along with other legislation that shrunk the size of government and advanced individual liberty.

We continue to rally support around conservative and libertarian leaders like Rep. Dave Brat (VA-07), Rep. David SchweikertDavid SchweikertREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit House GOP proposed rules change sparks concern MORE (AZ-06), Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieHouse conservatives plot to oust Liz Cheney GOP lawmaker on Capitol protesters: 'I will not be deterred' by 'mob demand' Questions and answers about the Electoral College challenges MORE (KY-04) and Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashRepublicans eye primaries in impeachment vote Michigan GOP lawmaker says he's 'strongly considering' impeachment Newly sworn in Republican House member after Capitol riot: 'I regret not bringing my gun to D.C.' MORE (MI-03), who each have almost flawless lifetime scores on the FreedomWorks Congressional Scorecard for making the hard votes when they matter the most.

The next speaker must support these conservative leaders, and work alongside them to make the GOP the party of free markets and limited government again.

We cannot fall into the trap of rushing the process and settling on a consensus candidate. Choosing a speaker based on the flawed criteria of “who upsets the status quo establishment the least” will only lead to more of the same. More massive spending bills, more blinking on health care reform, and more negotiating with ourselves rather than the Democrats.

Republican voters are paying attention. Moderate and left-leaning Republicans in Congress have already blown their credibility on spending, and as a result will be rejected by the fiscally conservative voting base of the GOP.

If Republican voters stay home in 2018, it’s not because Paul Ryan announced his retirement. It’s because taxpayers can no longer tell the difference between Republicans and Democrats.

The only way Speaker Ryan’s exit could sabotage the GOP’s midterm election performance is if House Republicans rush the process and pick a successor who stands for more of the same.

Adam Brandon is the president and CEO of FreedomWorks.