Freedom Caucus Offers Support But Refuses Ryan’s Terms For Being Speaker

AP
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Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET

Members of the House Freedom Caucus — the conservative hardliners who have been roiling GOP leadership in recent weeks — emerged from a meeting Wednesday on Rep. Paul Ryan’s speaker candidacy willing to give him their “support” as a group. In a caucus vote, about two-thirds of the members said they were comfortable supporting Ryan as speaker, according to those present. However, they did not reach the 80 percent support line that the caucus requires to give its endorsement. After the meeting members also said the group would not concede to the conditions Ryan has given publicly to accept the speakership.

“We are sending the message to the conference and Paul Ryan that he has our support, but that we will continue to ask for the changes that we are asking for,” said Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) told reporters.

Ryan had told the House Republican conference that he wanted the endorsement of the Freedom Caucus and other GOP caucus groups by Friday before moving forward in the speaker’s race. Ryan released a statement via Twitter after the meeting saying he was “grateful for the support” and saw it as a “positive step” toward unity.

While caucus members said they would not be giving Ryan their endorsement, they said they believed he now had the votes to win the speakership both in the conference and on the floor.

“We are not meeting all his demands,” Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) told reporters.“But if he wants to be speaker, he has the votes as of tonight.”

Among other things, Ryan had asked as a precondition for him running for speaker that he can maintain time for his family — speakers typically spend the weekends fundraising — and that the motion to vacate be “de-weaponized.” The latter in particular had caused concerns for Freedom Caucus members. At one point, Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) stepped out of the meeting to fetch a copy of the Jefferson Manuel from his staff.

“The demands were not agreed to,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) said.

Labrador said the ball was in Ryan’s court, now that they had given him enough support to win the speaker vote, but not an endorsement or an agreement on his preconditions.

“We’re not conceding to those, and he needs to decide if he can move forward,” Labrador said.

Correction: This post has been updated to show Morgan Griffith represents Virginia.

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