House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Tuesday that a “divisive leadership election” would only disrupt the Republican agenda when asked about a report that surfaced White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney’s musings about replacing Ryan with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) before the 2018 midterms.
At the press conference, Ryan added that “obviously I serve at the pleasure of the members.”
McCarthy, hovering behind Ryan as he spoke, quickly took the podium and said that the report, in which Mulvaney says he and McCarthy have spoken privately about the speakership coup, is “not true.”
Ryan was also asked multiple questions about the immigration schism currently pitting conservative and moderate Republicans against each other.
Some rank-and-file Republicans are trying to accumulate enough signatures on a discharge petition to bring a series of immigration bills to the floor, which could include protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients. GOP leaders oppose the petition, and conservatives killed the farm bill last week over Ryan’s refusal to schedule an immediate vote on a hard-line immigration bill.
“Last Friday was regretful,” Ryan said of the farm bill’s demise. “Members backing the discharge petition are really upset at the other members who brought down the farm bill over this this issue.
“So we clearly have members from opposite ends of our spectrum who are frustrated with each other, which can happen in Congress,” he added.
Throughout the press conference, Ryan repeated his line about the battling immigration bills, saying that his priority is bringing a bill to the floor that has a fighting chance of becoming law. “I can guarantee you, the discharge petition will not make law,” he said.
The discharge petition is still five Republican signatures short, assuming that all of the Democrats sign. The hard-line immigration bill, though unlikely to pass, would effectively kill the discharge petition.