There are a variety of adjectives to describe the drama surrounding the House Republican leadership, but “normal” isn’t one of them. Normally, a House member who wants to be Speaker reaches out to his or her colleagues, making promises, pleading for support.
reported:Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has somehow managed to turn the traditional model on its head. He’s willing to serve as Speaker, but instead of promises and appeals for votes, the Wisconsin congressman gave his GOP colleagues a list of demands and deadlines. NBC News
That ended Tuesday night at a meeting of the House Republican Conference, where Ryan told fellow Republicans that he would run if the caucus unifies around a positive message of big ideas. […]Brendan Buck, Ryan’s spokesman, said that in the meeting with his colleagues, Ryan also insisted that House rules must be changed to make it harder for dissident members to try to oust the speaker. “No matter who is speaker, they cannot be successful with this weapon pointed at them all the time,” Buck said.
And so, the contours of a deal have taken shape. Ryan wants the House to scrap its “vacate the chair” rule that makes it possible for House members to effectively fire Speakers they don’t like. He also wants the major House GOP factions – the far-right Republican Study Committee, the even-further-right House Freedom Caucus, and the more moderate Tuesday Group – to formally endorse his run for Speaker by Friday.
Ryan also expects the Republican conference to respect his need for family time on weekends.
If his GOP colleagues accept these terms, Ryan will, in exchange, give them the benefit of his leadership – and a promise to kill immigration reform for the remainder of this Congress.
If House Republicans accept the demands by Friday, Ryan will be well positioned to ascend to the Speaker’s office fairly quickly. If they balk, Ryan will remain chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee and allow his intra-party detractors to take the blame for the prolonged period of chaos.
So what happens now?
In theory, Paul Ryan has made things very easy. There was, for all intents and purposes, a draft campaign to woo the conservative Wisconsinite into the race for Speaker. Ryan has effectively accepted the draft, but he has some conditions. If his terms are met over the next three days, John Boehner can retire and Congress will move on.
In practice, the next few days may get a little messy. Roll Call reported overnight:
The biggest challenge of all will be contending with the roughly 40-member House Freedom Caucus and its procedural demands, as well as maybe another half-dozen hard-line conservatives who have expressed concern with some of Ryan’s past support for comprehensive immigration overhaul legislation and Trade Promotion Authority.Rep. Raul R. Labrador of Idaho, a Freedom Caucus member, called adjusting rules associated with the motion to vacate the chair a “non-starter.” He said he didn’t think the idea would receive support from even 20 percent of the caucus, let alone 80 percent, as required in HFC bylaws.
There are 247 House Republicans, though Ryan doesn’t realistically expect to get 247 votes. He does, however, expect to have ample support from the major House GOP factions.
But members of the House Freedom Caucus – which pressured Boehner into retirement and helped derail Kevin McCarthy’s bid for Speaker – seemed quite unimpressed with Ryan’s list of demands last night. Indeed, as far as the right-wing lawmakers are concerned, Ryan is effectively asking for their surrender – the “vacate the chair” tactic gives them some leverage, which they are reluctant to give up in exchange for the death of immigration legislation that probably can’t pass anyway.
It raises the very real possibility that Ryan’s conditions will not be met, which in turn means it’s entirely possible that for all of last night’s excitement, Ryan’s promotion is not yet a sure-thing.