The pressure is on Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2012, to run for House speaker in the chaotic aftermath of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s astonishing decision to abandon his campaign for the post. (Oct. 9)
AP

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, whose decision to drop his bid for speaker Thursday stunned his colleagues, said Friday that Paul Ryan is considering the job, as pressure mounts on the Wisconsin Republican to jump into the race.

“We had a very good conference,” McCarthy told reporters Friday following a meeting of House Republicans who gathered to find a way forward to unite their fractured caucus. He said Ryan, the Ways and Means Committee chairman who was also the party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, is “looking at” mounting a bid.

“If he (Ryan) decides to do it, he’ll be an amazing speaker,” McCarthy told reporters. “But he’s got to decide on his own.”

Meanwhile, Ryan’s spokesman, Brendan Buck, said in a statement that “Chairman Ryan appreciates the support he’s getting from his colleagues but is still not running for Speaker.” Ryan had no comment following the gathering of GOP lawmakers earlier in the morning.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who said Friday morning that he is considering a bid for speaker, told reporters that Ryan is going home to discuss it with his family. Issa added that he would only consider running himself if Ryan opts to pass.

“It’s a job he doesn’t want and isn’t seeking, but it’s a job that’s seeking him,” Issa said of Ryan. He said Ryan has support from both moderates and conservatives. He added that members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, which often challenged Boehner, have told him they would vote for Ryan.

“We need to bring this caucus back together,” Issa said. “Paul Ryan can do that.”

McCarthy’s surprise decision Thursday came as his colleagues were gathering to nominate him for the job. However, it was apparent that the California Republican lacked the support of the 218 members necessary to guarantee his election by the full House, which had been scheduled to vote on Oct. 29.

“I just think it’s best to have a new face,” McCarthy told reporters.

His exit left the party with no obvious choice to succeed John Boehner, who said Thursday he would remain as speaker until a successor is chosen. Ryan’s entry into the race, though, would change that landscape.

Boehner urged House members to continue to focus on doing their jobs while the uncertainty over the next speaker continues.

Congress faces a Dec. 11 deadline to fund federal agencies for 2016 or risk a government shutdown. Lawmakers also must decide whether to raise the debt limit next month to allow the government to continue to borrow money.

Ryan’s hesitance to run for speaker is in part because he has three small children. He’s previously said the position is best suited for an “empty nester.”

Reps. Daniel Webster of Florida, who earlier in the week secured the support of the Freedom Caucus, and Jason Chaffetz of Utah are currently in the race, and other lawmakers have said they’re considering bids. Chaffetz said Friday he would support Ryan if he chooses to run. Chaffetz added that part of the reason he entered the race was because “people like Paul Ryan weren’t running.”

In addition to his legislative and political experience, Ryan has considerable fundraising prowess. An ability to raise funds for other members has traditionally been an important part of the speaker’s duties.

Ryan has raised about $40 million for his campaign and leadership committees during his 17-year congressional career, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.

He has given about 20% of those funds to other Republicans to boost their campaigns, the center said.

Ryan and more than a dozen other key Republicans sent a letter to House leaders yesterday urging them not to make any snap decisions in the wake of McCarthy’s departure.

“We would ask that members not commit to a determinative course of action before our conference can meet and find a shared set of goals and governing vision that benefits the nation and our constituents,” the letter said.

Also signing were Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster and Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

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