7 House Republicans Debate Race for Speaker, Potential Paul Ryan Run

Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Sunday that his group would consider supporting Paul Ryan for House speaker.

House Republicans have coalesced around trying to push a reluctant Ryan to run for speaker, believing he is the only member who can unite a disparate conference.

But to earn the support of the powerful Freedom Caucus, Jordan said Ryan, R-Wis., must first agree to undertake reforms in how House business is run.

“Paul Ryan is a good man,” Jordan, R-Ohio, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Certainly if he gets in the race I think our group would look favorably on him. But we’re much more concerned about reforming the institution.”

The Freedom Caucus, roughly 40 members of the 247 House Republicans, led the push to oust Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. After House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy unexpectedly announced he will not run to fill the position, Republicans are looking for a face that could receive a majority vote.

The Sunday talk shows were abuzz.

House Freedom Caucus founding member Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “certainly Paul comes right to the head of the list” as someone who could unite the Republican party in the House.

Ryan has said he will not run for speaker, but some have speculated he still may consider a candidacy for the position.

“First, he’s got to make a decision to run,” Mulvaney said. “Then, I think he’s got to convince me and some other folks that if he were in charge that the place would be different.”

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Mulvaney added, “Paul certainly has a lot of respect across the Republicans in the House and I think he could be a good speaker.”

The House Freedom Caucus currently supports Florida Rep. Daniel Webster for speaker.

“Until somebody’s a declared candidate we are not going to move to a new candidate,” Freedom Caucus founding member Raúl Labrador stated on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Now if new candidates declare themselves, then we are going to ask them to talk to the House Freedom Caucus.”

As for the group’s decision to back Webster, Labrador elaborated:

“We went with the guy who wants to go for the process. [Daniel Webster’s] conservative voting record is much different than mine, but he ran the House of Representatives and the Senate in Florida in a way that brought people together.”

The Freedom Caucus wishes to change House rules and decentralize power to ensure that every member can participate in the legislative process.

“We need to get to a point that we figure out how to make the House work,” Labrador said.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus continues to endorse Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., for speaker, but would consider Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., if he decided to run. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom)

One thing about the House speaker race is clear. There is a division and differences among the Republican party in Congress.

“We got to change things. We need a fresh start,” House speaker candidate Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week.” “We have a gulf and a divide that needs to be bridged.”

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“I do think I bridge that gap,” Chaffetz said. “If there’s somebody better who can unite us, I’ll support them.”

Chaffetz said he will drop out if Ryan decides to run because he believes Ryan would be a “wonderful speaker” and “checks every box.”

Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he hopes Paul Ryan runs for speaker. He said that if speaker, Ryan “will have to make accommodations and collaborate with the Democrats” to pass items such as the debt ceiling and budget agreement.

“If [Ryan] does those things he will have his legs taken out by some of his own members,” Dent cautioned.

Dent, among other representatives, disagree with the tactics of the Freedom Caucus.  

Freedom Caucus member Dave Brat, R-Va. said on “Meet the Press,” “What we [the House Freedom Caucus] want is what the American people want.”

“I follow the American people,” Brat stated.

On defunding Planned Parenthood, House Freedom Caucus members oppose any spending bill that would provide funds for the nation’s leading abortion provider. Other Republicans were willing to compromise on the issue to avoid a government shutdown.

“Our disagreements tend to be tactical, not theological,” said Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole on “State of the Union.” “We actually believe in the same thing.”

“I actually think this process, as chaotic as it looks from the outside and as difficult as it’s been for some individuals, has probably been a pretty healthy one,” Cole said.

As for speaker, Cole has “enormous confidence” that Ryan is the right person for the job.

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“In the end, I trust Paul to make the right decision,” Cole said. “He’s got a lot of things to consider. He’s got his family, his career, and he certainly shouldn’t do it if he’s not willing to embrace it with a lot of zest.”

Boehner, who is set to resign from his congressional seat at the end of October, will stay speaker until someone new is elected.

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