Fave quote from this story about whether Paul Ryan can hang on as speaker: “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig, and getting beat on the farm bill last week was a pig.” @thomaskaplan @npfandos https://t.co/u0B6Goi2l2— Sheryl Gay Stolberg (@SherylNYT) May 23, 2018
Speaker Paul Ryan (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 McCarthy (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 Pelosi (D-Calif.) before the midterms.
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney 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.
A group of moderates frustrated with the lack of action to protect Dreamers from deportation is expected to collect enough signatures to force bipartisan immigration votes in the coming days, according to lawmakers and aides tracking the effort. And conservatives who oppose those bills are threatening to hold Republican leaders — starting with Ryan — responsible if they don’t stop it.
“If we run an amnesty bill out of a Republican House, I think all options are on the table,” Freedom Caucus member Scott Perry (R-Pa.) told reporters Monday night when asked whether Ryan could remain speaker if the so-called discharge petition succeeds.
“If leadership doesn’t stop it, they would be violating their own word, which was the Hastert rule, majority of the majority,” agreed Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), referring to an unofficial Republican policy of not holding votes on matters that aren’t backed by more than half of the conference.
Conservatives are so desperate to stop the discharge petition that they’re suggesting Ryan strong-arm moderates to get them to back down — though they decried ex-Speaker John Boehner’s use of such tactics against them in the past. Leaders should consider revoking National Republican Congressional Committee financial help or other perks to keep moderates from forcing the issue, several have said. Such a move would be devastating for those centrists, many of whom hail from swing districts targeted by Democrats.