Paul Ryan, who has said repeatedly he does not want to be House Speaker, now will consider the position. But only if the all Republican House members, including the hard-line “Freedom Caucus,” agree to a series of demands.
What the Freedom Caucus wants
The Freedom Caucus, which consists of about 40 members, had been demanding that potential candidates for speaker make a detailed set of substantive commitments in exchange for their support. Kevin McCarthy wouldn’t agree to these, so the Freedom Caucus endorsed another candidate. McCarthy was then forced to drop out because he didn’t have enough support to be elected speaker.
McCarthy had good reason to resist. Although Freedom Caucus members say they want “process reforms,” they are actually seeking a series of commitments from a potential speaker candidates that would send the country over a cliff.
For example, they want the next speaker to refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless it is tied to cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This is something the Democrats in Congress and President Obama would never agree to, potentially setting up the country for catastrophic default.
What Paul Ryan wants
Paul Ryan has a list of demands.
First, Paul Ryan refuses to agree to anything in advance of being elected speaker. He will not pre-commit to anything the Freedom Caucus wants.
Second, He wants the Freedom Caucus to publicly endorse him for speaker anyway. This would require four-fifths of the Freedom Caucus to vote to support him.
Third, he want the Freedom Caucus to agree to rule changes that would vastly limit their power moving forward. Specifically, he wants to eliminate their ability to oust a sitting speaker by making a motion to “Vacate The Chair.” This is where, fundamentally, the Freedom Caucus derives much of their power.
How the Freedom Caucus, and the right wing, is reacting to Paul Ryan’s demands
Many members of the Freedom Caucus are already publicly rejecting Paul Ryan and his demands:
I ask Labrador if he sees 4/5ths of HFC supporting Ryan if he eliminates the motion to vacate the chair. "I don't see 1/5th," Labrador says.
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) October 21, 2015
Rep. Jones on Paul Ryan: This is not what we need. We need someone that can represent the American people and not special interests.
— Alex Moe (@AlexNBCNews) October 21, 2015
Webster leaving Capitol on how leadership handled tonight: "What we saw was power at work [for Ryan]. Is anyone surprised?"
— Robert Costa (@costareports) October 21, 2015
GOP Rep Mo Brooks, member of Freedom Caucus said concern already about Ryan's "amnesty and open borders immigration position"
— Deirdre Walsh (@deirdrewalshcnn) October 21, 2015
Rep Huelskamp on Ryan: He’s set up..unacceptable conditions. He knows they’re unreasonable..He can drop out and say ‘At least I tried.’
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) October 21, 2015
Here’s how Matt Drudge, still an influential figure among conservatives, has framed Ryan’s request:
There are 40 members of the Freedom Caucus, so the ultimate outcome is still in doubt. They will be under severe pressure from the Republican establishment to reverse course and support Ryan. But the early signs for Ryan are not positive.