House Freedom Caucus Members Cool To Paul Ryan’s Initial Pitch

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., is seen during a congressional panel at the 2016 Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Mackinac Island, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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This post has been updated.

After Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced on Tuesday night that he will consider a bid for House speaker as long as a few conditions are met, members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus expressed skepticism about Ryan and his proposals.

Ryan asked that three groups of Republicans, including the House Freedom Caucus, endorse him by Friday in order to ensure that he will run for the top leadership spot. Freedom Caucus members did not dismiss Ryan’s candidacy outright, but members indicated that they will need to speak with Ryan and deliberate before backing him. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), chair of the caucus, told Roll Call that members of the group will need to take a vote.

It seems the biggest obstacle in Ryan’s path to gaining the Freedom Caucus’ support are his proposals about rules changes in the House, specifically changes to the motion to vacate the chair.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) told Roll Call on Tuesday that the motion to vacate the chair, a resolution that allows the House to vote to oust the speaker, is essential.

“How do you get rid of a speaker that has problems?” he asked. “Every organization, except for a dictatorship, has a motion to vacate the chair.”

“Never thought Paul Ryan would come in and say, ‘I want more power than John Boehner has,'” Huelskamp told Roll Call.

On Wednesday morning, Huelskamp indicated that he still supports the Freedom Caucus’ initial choice for speaker, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL).

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) told Roll Call on Tuesday that changes to the motion to vacate the chair is a “non-starter.”

Yet, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) suggested that a small change might be acceptable.

“Maybe there’s some procedural change he wants that maintains the motion to vacate, but, in any event, it’s a protection for the people,” he told Roll Call.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus will likely meet with Ryan this week.

“I think we need to invite him in and have him expand on what he meant. You know he just gave a short speech,” Labrador told Politico, referencing his concerns about the motion to vacate the chair.

The caucus typically needs a four-fifths majority vote in order to back any position, according to Roll Call.

House speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told Republicans on Wednesday morning that the House Republican conference will hold leadership elections on Oct. 28, and then the full House will vote for speaker on Oct. 29.

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