After a week of speculation in Washington, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said for the first time on Tuesday that he would be willing to officially throw his hat in the ring for the position of House speaker, provided that all House Republicans support his candidacy.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the House majority leader, withdrew his name from consideration for the post. McCarthy’s exit came after a widely publicized gaffe, in which he admitted that the Benghazi committee was in part a smokescreen intended to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president. Since then, Ryan has been the GOP favorite for the position. However, up until Tuesday he’s insisted that he had no interest in the job.
To win the post, Ryan needs the approval of the House Freedom Caucus, the group of conservative House Republicans that helped force the resignation of John Boehner. Ryan met with the group on Tuesday. According to Politico reporter Jake Sherman, Ryan told the group that he wanted to know by the end of the week whether he would have the full caucus’ support of his candidacy. He also suggested restructuring the position to be more about managing the party’s message and less about fundraising.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) have also announced their candidacy for the speaker post, but Chaffetz said in a tweet on Tuesday that, should Ryan run, he’ll drop out of the race and throw his support behind Ryan.
Boehner had planned to leave his post at the end of this month but has said he’ll stay on in the job until his successor is named. Adding to the pressure to quickly name a new speaker: Congress must raise the debt ceiling by November 3 or risk a federal government default on the nation’s debt.