House Republicans are angrily divided, and no faction is blameless. Too many Republicans have been content with an agenda that merely attempts to get business done on time, and to please business lobbies. (Those lobbies are sometimes right and sometimes wrong, but conservatism is not reducible to their preferences.) Too many other Republicans think that leadership consists of unrealistic demands combined with strong rhetoric…

More than any other prominent House Republican, [Paul] Ryan has pushed back against both tendencies. He has instead outlined a practical agenda and done the hard work of building support for it from all corners of the party. Although he has sided with leadership in tactical disputes in recent years, he has consistently pushed the envelope on substance, understanding that the party needs a serious policy agenda to counter that of the Left. He is a knowledgeable and effective defender of conservative policy. Sometimes we think he is wrong on both substantive and tactical matters, but we never doubt that he is wrong for the right reasons. For these reasons, Ryan is trusted by most House Republicans, whatever their opinion of the Boehner era…

Ryan ought to run for speaker, and his colleagues ought to support him. To be an effective force in moving public policy in a conservative direction, House Republicans need both unity and direction. Ryan can supply more of each than they have had for some time.


Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) predicted on Sunday that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) could ultimately decide to run to replace outgoing-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), despite Ryan’s repeated insistence that he’s not interested in the job.

“If my friend Paul Ryan decides to run, I think ultimately he’ll win,” Cole said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”…

“I have enormous confidence that this is the right man for the right moment,” Cole said.


“You know what, he needs to do this for the team,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee…

Even members who are currently eyeing the speakership – Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga) – have said they would clear the path if Ryan chose to step up.

“Part of the reason I got into the race was because people like Paul Ryan weren’t getting into the race,” Chaffetz told reporters Friday morning. “I’m a huge fan of Paul Ryan, I would hope he would do it.”…

It’s also something that Ryan owes to the Republican party nationally ahead of an election year, he said: “Everyone from grassroots to senior party officials know that this is extremely important to have the right person in this job right now and that person is Paul Ryan.”


But even as Mr. Ryan was said to be reconsidering, his close associates cautioned that he had no intention of fighting for the job and would most likely accept it only by acclamation — including the support of the hard-line conservatives who pressed to oust Mr. Boehner and helped drive the majority leader, Kevin McCarthy of California, out of the speaker’s race on Thursday.

“If the conference decides as a whole that they want him to do it, it is possible,” said a Republican official close to Mr. Ryan who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “If there are still those guys who are holding out trying to make a point, it is not going to happen.”…

The hard-right lawmakers who pushed for Mr. Boehner’s ouster have made a long list of demands for changes to how the House operates, including major adjustments to the composition of a committee that decides other committee chairmanships and alterations to the way legislation and amendments can be brought to the floor.

Those demands, as well as others regarding various leadership posts, appeared to contribute to Mr. McCarthy’s decision to withdraw, even though he had been the heavy favorite to succeed Mr. Boehner.


Some conservatives in the Republican party are sharpening their knives to keep Representative Paul Ryan from succeeding House Speaker John Boehner, even as they say publicly the election of the next speaker will center on reforms in the U.S. House of Representatives instead of the candidates…

A video is circulating around Congress of the floor speech that Ryan gave supporting creation of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the emergency scheme that used public funds to shore up banks during the 2008 financial crisis and that is a bugaboo for many conservatives…

They have also sent out reminders that Ryan authored the 2010 book “Young Guns” with former Representative Eric Cantor and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, two men considered part of the establishment wing of the party who have seen their political ambitions foiled by more radical conservatives…

[W]hen asked if he personally supported Ryan, Brat said: “It’s not about personal anything, its about rules. If we have regular order, and they want to sign their name to that, I’ll support that person.”


“We’ve endorsed Webster, and we plan on sticking with him through the House floor. If someone else gets in, we’ll have to have a discussion as a group, but we’ve endorsed Webster,” said Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.).

That’s because many conservatives disagree with the former vice presidential nominee’s position on immigration and his role in the bipartisan Ryan-Murray budget deal

[C]onservatives strongly disagree with Ryan’s position on immigration and his role in crafting the bipartisan 2013 Ryan-Murray budget deal. He’s been criticized by the far right for being a staunch proponent of immigration reform and his work with Democrats to find a compromise to address the growing number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S.


Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho [said] that it’s possible that he and other members of the House Freedom Caucus would swing behind Ryan, or others. But first, Labrador said, any candidate needs to talk to the caucus and address the concern that the speaker should more effectively push the Republicans’ agenda before making deals.

“It’s not about the who, it’s about the what,” Labrador told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “What are we going to do in the House to change the culture? What are we going to do so we can get 247 Republicans together on the same page? What are we going to do so that every member of the conference feels they’re actually valuable and that they are doing the things they need to do?”


“The false, lazy narrative is that we want a more conservative speaker,” Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) told reporters at a forum of hard-line House members last week. “But the reality is: What we want is a process-focused speaker. . . . What we need is a speaker who follows the House rules.”…

A questionnaire for speaker candidates drawn up by the Freedom Caucus ahead of a Tuesday night forum, first published last week by Politico, sketched out a series of demands: more rank-and-file representation on the crucial Republican Steering Committee; adherence to the “Hastert rule” requiring a majority of Republicans to support any bill brought to a floor vote; and an end to retaliation for opposing leadership on procedural votes…

In another potentially radical reform, committee chairmen would be chosen by secret ballot of the Republican members of that panel — curtailing the Steering Committee’s power to dole out chairmanships as a reward for fundraising, party loyalty or seniority.

Those changes hold great appeal for relative newcomers who pledged to quickly make a difference in Washington.



They call themselves the “Freedom Caucus,” but a better name would be the “We’ll Hold Our Breath Until We Turn Blue” Caucus.

These birds believe the government spends too much money. So does every other Republican on Capitol Hill. But the Freedom Caucus will not acknowledge a few basic facts of life. For starters, a national election was held in 2012 and Democrats won. The fruit of that victory occupies the Oval Office, and doesn’t share their spending priorities. Neither does any Democrat in Congress, all of whom have a vote. Yes, Republicans enjoy a majority, but that’s not the same thing as unanimity. Moreover, longstanding Senate rules mean that a simple majority in the upper chamber isn’t enough to enact sweeping change. And even before the Senate went Republican, these GOP radicals acted as though controlling one half of one of three co-equal branches of government gave them effective veto power. That’s just bad math.

They aren’t so good at history, either. These Tea Party types express a fetish for constitutional originalism, but denounce political compromise as the work of the devil. This is absurd. The document they claim to love was forged through compromise. That’s how politics still works…

The purity in personal conduct and policy decisions that the far right demands of Republican leaders is neither Christian nor conservative. What it is, ultimately, is self-defeating, and politically suicidal. It’s cannibalism.


Asked by Fox’s Chris Wallace if he thinks Ryan should take the job, Gingrich was hesitant to push the Wisconsin congressman towards what many describe as a “thankless” position.

“I think Paul should be very cautious,” Gingrich told Wallace. “He is the most prestigious member of the House on the Republican side. He has the best future, he’s still very young.”

“It’s easy to get 218 on the first vote, and then you get to keeping the government open through a continuing resolution, and then you get to the debt ceiling, and if you’re not careful, by Christmas you resemble John Boehner,” he continued. “Because these things are hard.”


Objectively, Ryan is in every way the right choice for the party. For the past several years, he’s been the go-to guy for all matters budgetary. In 2010, when the GOP mantra was cut, cut, cut , few could articulate their preferences. Almost anyone you asked about cuts would answer, Ask Paul Ryan. He’s got it all figured out…

Ryan is also indisputably a good guy — likable, good-natured but tough, and a devoted family man who wears himself lightly — qualities we’ve come to recognize as exceptional in a world of angry ordinariness…

Ryan, meanwhile, would do well to let history guide him. No good deed goes unpunished with this crowd. Soon enough, the Freedom Caucus gang will make life miserable for the next speaker, and then what?

Whoever takes the job had best have no further aspirations. This isn’t to diminish the office, which is a noble position and no meager endgame. But few think Ryan has no higher aspirations. Thus, the question isn’t should he run for speaker but why should he?

He shouldn’t.


Ryan is not really of the Tea Party. In the Bush era he voted for bills like No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and TARP, all of which today’s conservative insurgents despise. And he’s a dove on immigration, the issue where the party’s base always expects — with good reason! — their leadership is poised to sell them out.

A more ideal speaker would share Ryan’s conservative credentials and wonkish spirit, but he wouldn’t have that baggage. The ideal speaker, in fact, would probably have led Tea Party-driven brinksmanship at some point in the Obama-era past, the better to channel it more productively in the future.

Such a figure exists. Unfortunately, he’s in the other chamber: He’s Utah’s junior senator, Mike Lee…

In Lee’s ambitions, you can see what the House insurgents want to be — a force that moves conservative policy making away from donor service and toward genuine reform — rather than the purely nihilistic force they often threaten to become. You can see the outlines of the kind of agenda that might satisfy (some) intransigents and also provide some (very) modest ground for bipartisanship.

And then in his record and persona, you can see a — let’s be frank — tribal identification with insurgency that might make easier for him to persuade the G.O.P.’s right flank to accept the real limits on the House’s power.


The most interesting thing about this moment is that it captures in miniature the broader reality that something close to the entirety of substantive political debate in these United States is on and among the Right. The fight in the House is an intra-conservative fight, despite the best efforts of our talk-radio friends and the circus monkeys on cable to magically transplant John Boehner et al. from the political tradition of Ronald Reagan to that of Woodrow Wilson. On the left, there is endless rehashing of the economic policies of the 1930s and the sad, deluded liberationist socio-sexual ethic of the 1970s, and the hot topic is whether the Democratic field is too old and too white and whether Jonathan Chait is too male (assuming that’s how he identifies) and too white to remark upon the whiteness.

There are cautious, reserved, process-oriented conservatives among GOP leaders — Boehner, McCarthy, etc. — who are conservative both in the ideological sense and in the temperamental sense. And in opposition to them, there are radical conservatives, impatient with the pace of change and excited almost beyond endurance that Barack Obama, the unlikely left-wing back-bench nobody from Chicago, has twice managed to get himself elected president, to keep his partisans in line, and to frustrate the hell out of Republicans despite their holding their best position in Congress and in the states since . . . ever, really. A great many of these more radical conservatives are good, genuine, valuable public servants, some of whom also want to be president. A few of them, mainly outside of government, are cynical media manipulators who traffic in perpetual artificial outrage because perpetual artificial outrage is how you sell people gold coins and freeze-dried apocalypse entrees.

This is the radicals’ moment. Boehner and McCarthy have simultaneously knuckled under and issued a challenge: “Okay, big boys, you don’t like our leadership? Let’s see what you’ve got.” There are some potential answers to that question that are very exciting.

The House is about to find out whether the more energetic conservatives long dissatisfied with the leadership of John Boehner can effectively put forward one of their own for the top House job — and, if they do, Congress and the country are about to find out what that means. As a way of settling a genuine political dispute, this could hardly be improved upon.


The chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus said on Sunday his group of some 40 members “would look favorably” on Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as the new speaker…

But Jordan cautioned: “This is not just about who the next speaker is, it’s about what’s going to change the business-as-usual attitude … That’s what we’re focused on.”