On Sunday, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney publicly floated the possibility that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) could step down before the midterms to trigger a speaker election, forcing Democrats to rally behind House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), according to a Monday Weekly Standard report.
Mulvaney reportedly made the comments to Fox News host Bret Baier in response to a question about Ryan stepping down to clear the way for his heir apparent, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). He was at a Colorado conference sponsored by the Weekly Standard at the time.
“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.”
According to the Standard and the Washington Post, a spokesperson for Mulvaney said that his comments were “purely hypothetical” and one for McCarthy said that the two men had never had any such conversations.
As the Post points out, Mulvaney’s idea — which comes at the cost of revealing the infighting in the Republican party, especially during the current immigration fracas — would likely be ineffective anyway. Very few Democratic House incumbents who would have to take the vote before the midterms are in any risk of losing reelection in their districts.