Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) walks from a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 22, 2016. 
Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Congressional Republican leaders face an uncertain future

Updated
If recent polling is accurate, House Democrats are likely to gain seats in this year’s election cycle. That said, they’ll need a net gain of 30 seats to reach majority status, and that may well too tough a hurdle to clear with the Republicans’ structural advantages.

On the other side of the aisle, House Republicans will be relieved if they can maintain their majority status, but the relief may be short lived – because the rumblings about a leadership shake-up are getting louder. CNN had this report yesterday:
Rep. Mark Meadows said Thursday the effort to remove Speaker Paul Ryan is “picking up some steam” because many GOP lawmakers and a stream of callers to the North Carolinian’s congressional offices are incensed the Wisconsin Republican hasn’t embraced fully Donald Trump’s candidacy for president. […]

Meadows, one of the 30-plus members of the ultra-conservative and powerful House Freedom Caucus, said there “will be real discussions after November 8 on who our leadership will be and what that will look like going forward.”
This coincides with a report from The Hill, which quoted an unnamed Freedom Caucus member saying it is “a pretty sure bet there will be” a GOP challenger taking on Paul Ryan for the Speaker’s gavel.

There’s also some pressure from outside Capitol Hill, with prominent voices from Republican media pushing for Ryan’s ouster.

To be sure, some of this is premature. We can’t say with certainty, for example, that there will still be a House GOP majority in the new year. It’s likely, but real intra-party fights will depend on the election results.

That said, I also wouldn’t dismiss Mark Meadows’ efforts too quickly. The North Carolina Republican hasn’t gone into too much detail – he says the anti-Ryan campaign is “picking up some steam,” but what that means in practical terms is unclear – though Meadows’ track record is highly relevant.

Indeed, it was just last summer that the GOP lawmaker helped lead the charge against Boehner, and though the move created chaos among Republicans, from Meadows’ perspective, that initiative proved to be a historic success.

Finally, let’s say all of the D.C. chatter is for naught. For the sake of conversation, let’s assume House Republicans keep their majority and Paul Ryan has enough support to hold onto his Speaker’s gavel. Even under that scenario, there’s a salient point to this scuttlebutt: far-right Republicans don’t want their party to cooperate with Democrats if Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election.

It wouldn’t surprise me if this was largely about sending a warning to GOP leaders: “Try to govern and rank-and-file House members won’t just humiliate you, we’ll end your career. We did it to Boehner and we can do it to you.”



House Republicans and Paul Ryan

Congressional Republican leaders face an uncertain future

Updated