Ryan’s already-shaky status with GOP colleagues takes another hit

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. shakes hands with Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., right, as he is applauded following his re-election as speaker, during a ceremony in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017. J. Scott Applewhite AP

Ryan’s already-shaky status with GOP colleagues takes another hit


SEPTEMBER 07, 2017 6:14 PM
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s wobbly standing with staunch conservatives took a fresh hit Thursday, and while critical colleagues stopped short of demanding his ouster, they made it clear they were not content with his performance.

Conservatives, optimistic and enthusiastic earlier this year over the prospect of a Republican president and GOP control of Congress for the first time in 10 years, have been instead frustrated with their party’s inability to win any major victories. They are fuming over the failure to repeal Obamacare, which barely passed the House but has been stalled in the Senate, or the delays in pushing tax reform.

Wednesday brought an even bigger outrage: President Donald Trump cutting a budget and debt limit deal with Democrats — and then watching Democratic leaders spend the rest of the week loudly, proudly declaring victory.

Frustrated Republican congressmen, led by Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, are carefully but deliberately directing their ire at Republican leadership, not the president. But Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, played down reports that he wanted to oust Ryan.

“To extrapolate out that there’s some kind of leadership change or plan to address that is just not accurate,” Meadows said Thursday morning.

“Nobody does policy better than Speaker Ryan, but we do have to transition to the place where it’s not just about vision-casting, but it’s about execution,” said Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee. “I think with any coach, team, business or ministry, whatever it may be, I think the ones calling the shots have to bear some of the responsibility.”

There is no obvious replacement for Ryan, and no coup is planned anytime soon, according to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. At one point Thursday, some were floating former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who does not hold office, as a possible replacement. Speakers do not have to be congressmen.

Gingrich quickly doused the idea of a comeback.

“Paul Ryan IS Speaker of the House and he will remain Speaker of the House. He is intellectually brilliant, hard working, and solidly GOP,” Gingrich wrote on Twitter.


Newt Gingrich 


Paul Ryan IS Speaker of the House and he will remain Speaker of the House. He is intellectually brilliant, hard working, and solidly GOP

4:08 PM – Sep 7, 2017

Jordan, who would not say he supports Ryan, insisted that caucus members are not talking about a leadership shakeup, but are frustrated by the lack of progress on conservative goals. Constituents, he said “are ticked off at Congress for not getting things done we said we would do. That is all I’m focused on.”

Ryan, though, is clearly on the edge of losing his far-right flank, about two years after winning the speaker post. Conservatives were highly critical of his lack of planning and execution after Trump handed Democrats a huge unexpected win.

“The leader’s responsible for everything that happens or fails to happen,” said Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, one of three dozen Freedom Caucus members. “It’s the privilege but also the burden of leadership.”



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