After a month of uncertainty over who would take over the top job in the U.S. House of Representatives, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s bid to be speaker of the House seems assured after he lined up support from some of Congress’ most conservative members.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, told The Herald he will support Ryan in a floor vote scheduled for this week, as will most members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and South Carolina’s congressional delegation.
The decision came after caucus members met with Ryan and voted on an endorsement in a closed-door meeting in Washington last week.
“In sitting with Paul, I think we found we’re much closer on the ideas,” said Mulvaney, a founding member of the Freedom Caucus.
Mulvaney added, “And he realized we weren’t as crazy as we’ve been made out to be.”
He promised he would not bring up comprehensive immigration reform while Obama is still president.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney, on Paul Ryan.
A majority of caucus members initially supported the Freedom Caucus candidate for speaker, Florida Rep. Daniel Webster, but Mulvaney said Ryan convinced them he would support some rules changes to empower ordinary members of the Republican conference.
He also says Ryan promised the caucus he would run the House in line with some of the more conservative members’ priorities – such as on immigration, where Ryan is thought to be supportive of a broader reform effort than many in the Freedom Caucus are willing to support.
“He promised he would not bring up comprehensive immigration reform while Obama is still president,” Mulvaney said.
The Wisconsin congressman also supposedly pledged not to move legislation on the floor of the House that didn’t have the support of 218 Republicans – the so-called “Hastert rule.” Outgoing speaker John Boehner had angered House conservatives by passing legislation they opposed with votes from House Democrats.
Ryan had earlier made the support of the Freedom Caucus – and all other factions of the House GOP – a condition for his running for the job. Mulvaney said the caucus didn’t have a problem with most of Ryan’s conditions, including his desire to still be able to fly home weekly to be with his family in Wisconsin.
“We didn’t ask what he plans to do with his weekends,” Mulvaney said. “I think it’s petty to beat up on Paul for wanting to spend time with his kids.”
The only area where the caucus had an issue with Ryan, Mulvaney said, was his hope of protecting himself by doing away with House members’ ability to “vacate the chair,” a motion conservatives had used to force Boehner out of office. Mulvaney said Ryan dropped that demand during their meeting.
Still, Ryan came short of winning the group’s formal endorsement. Caucus rules require 80 percent support for them to take action as a group. Mulvaney estimates Ryan only got about 70 – not enough for a unified vote, but probably enough to earn him the speaker’s gavel.