Republicans "need to move from an op­pos­i­tion party to be­ing a pro­pos­i­tion party," said Rep. Paul Ryan.

Republicans "need to move from an op­pos­i­tion party to be­ing a pro­pos­i­tion party," said Rep. Paul Ryan. Andrew Harnik/AP

Ryan Willing to Serve as Speaker—if He Gets What He Wants

The Ways and Means chairman told his GOP colleagues what it would take to get him to “yes.”

Rep. Paul Ry­an still isn’t a yes. But he’s get­ting close.

After weeks of an­guish with­in his con­fer­ence over who could feas­ibly lead the frag­men­ted Re­pub­lic­an con­fer­ence, Ry­an presen­ted his GOP col­leagues Tues­day night with a series of con­di­tions un­der which he would be will­ing to serve as speak­er. Though it’s not a done deal, his state­ment offered Re­pub­lic­ans their clearest glim­mer of hope since Speak­er John Boehner an­nounced his plan to resign and Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Kev­in Mc­Carthy de­cided not to run for the top job.

“To­night, Con­gress­man Ry­an laid out to his col­leagues why he be­lieves we are in this situ­ation and what he thinks is needed for us to move for­ward as a team,” Ry­an spokes­man Brendan Buck said in an email after Tues­day’s meet­ing. “He did not an­nounce a fi­nal de­cision on the speak­er­ship, but he did dis­cuss what’s ne­ces­sary, in his view, for the next speak­er to be suc­cess­ful.”

Ry­an, Buck said, made clear that the next speak­er needs to lay out a clear­er policy vis­ion, needs to es­tab­lish a bal­ance that al­lows time with fam­ily, needs party unity, and needs to not face the con­stant threat that a mem­ber can move to va­cate the chair—the threat that helped prompt Boehner to quit.

Ry­an ex­pan­ded on those pro­pos­als in a press con­fer­ence after the meet­ing.

“We need to move from an op­pos­i­tion party to be­ing a pro­pos­i­tion party,” Ry­an said.  “Be­cause we think the na­tion is on the wrong path, we have a duty to show the right one.” He voiced sup­port for up­dat­ing House rules to en­sure that “every­one can be a more ef­fect­ive rep­res­ent­at­ive.”

The 45-year-old, in dis­cuss­ing rules changes, signaled that he’s not in­ter­ested in serving un­der the threat of chal­lenges from with­in the GOP ranks. “We need to do this as a team, and it needs to in­clude fixes that en­sure that we do not ex­per­i­ence con­stant lead­er­ship chal­lenges and crises,” Ry­an said.

Fi­nally, he in­sisted that he would serve in a way that en­sured he could spend ample time with his fam­ily, which in­cludes school-age chil­dren. “I can­not and I will not give up my fam­ily time. I may not be on the road as of­ten as pre­vi­ous speak­ers, but I pledge to try and make up for it with more time com­mu­nic­at­ing our vis­ion, our mes­sage,” Ry­an said.

“What  I told mem­bers is, if you can agree to these re­quests, and if I can truly be a uni­fy­ing fig­ure, than I will gladly serve,” he said.

Ry­an hopes the con­fer­ence will de­cide by the end of this week wheth­er it can sup­port him and his re­quests, Rep. Dar­rell Issa said.

Soon after the meet­ing, an­oth­er con­tender for speak­er, Rep. Jason Chaf­fetz, said he would give way. “I am out, and in with Paul,” Chaf­fetz said.

Ry­an’s entry in­to the race would help quell con­cerns com­ing from many mod­er­ate and es­tab­lish­ment mem­bers in the party that Boehner’s exit would leave be­hind a power va­cu­um and make the party look splintered just a year be­fore a pres­id­en­tial elec­tion.

Yet, even as many in the con­fer­ence would cheer, Ry­an will still face many of the same obstacles that Boehner was up against over the past five years. He will have to con­tend with the Free­dom Caucus, a group of 40 or so House Re­pub­lic­ans who rep­res­ent the most con­ser­vat­ive wing of the party. That seg­ment of the party has said it will sup­port Rep. Daniel Web­ster for speak­er and has called on a series of rules changes to make the le­gis­lat­ing pro­cess more rep­res­ent­at­ive.

Rep. Bill Flores, chair­man of an­oth­er con­ser­vat­ive fac­tion—the Re­pub­lic­an Study Com­mit­tee—said the RSC would meet Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss wheth­er it could sup­port Ry­an.

Rep. Marlin Stutz­man said he was open to con­sid­er­ing Ry­an, and that the Free­dom Caucus would take a look.

Rep. Matt Sal­mon ad­ded: “I can’t speak for the en­tire Free­dom Caucus. As far as I am con­cerned, I think he made some very reas­on­able ob­ser­va­tions about how any­body would need to have the sup­port of the en­tire con­fer­ence if they are go­ing to be suc­cess­ful as speak­er.”

Asked if he is per­son­ally sold on Ry­an, Sal­mon said, “Not yet, but I am cer­tainly open. I have not closed any doors what­so­ever.”

Rep. Peter King told Na­tion­al Journ­al that Ry­an told the con­fer­ence that he would “take ar­rows to the chest, but not in the back” and he would not be will­ing to be the “third log in the fire,” a ref­er­ence to con­ser­vat­ives’ push­back against Boehner and Mc­Carthy.

And con­ser­vat­ive Rep. Mark San­ford said: “I think he could well be the uni­fy­ing fig­ure the con­fer­ence has been look­ing for.”

While Ry­an’s style is far dif­fer­ent from Boehner’s, Ry­an re­mains close to the party’s lead­ers and has un­veiled mo­nu­ment­al budget blue­prints, hashed out budget com­prom­ises with Demo­crats, and ushered in a bi­par­tis­an trade deal through Con­gress with the bless­ing of the pres­id­ent.

Ry­an is also a ma­jor fun­draiser for Re­pub­lic­ans. He has raked in $40 mil­lion over the course of his ca­reer, ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the Cen­ter for Re­spons­ive Polit­ics.