The establishment’s effort to save Paul Ryan is still alive.
Establishment Republican support for an effort to buy Freedom Caucus support for Paul Ryan drive the embattled speaker’s effort to retain his seat.
Politico reports establishment water carriers like Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) and Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) are keen on the idea of the Freedom Caucus supporting Ryan’s retaining the speaker’s gavel in exchange for leadership offering a low-level, ceremonial spot in GOP leadership to a Ryan-controlled member of of the House Freedom Caucus.
“I think that is a smart move on the part of Freedom Caucus,” said Westmoreland, a harsh critic of the Freedom Caucus and a membership of Paul Ryan’s whip team, “I think it’d be great for the conference… [The person] would have to be someone that the Freedom Caucus really trusted and believed in,” meaning someone hand-picked and controlled by GOP leadership.
Messer, also on Ryan’s leadership team opined, “It would strengthen our conference to have a broader cross-section of the conference represented at the leadership table.”
Such a deal would represent the second year in a row the Freedom Caucus would have caved to pressure to support Ryan based on promises that never seem to come to fruition.
Ryan won Freedom Caucus support last October after he promised procedural reforms that would’ve made grassroots reform easier in the House.
Ryan’s hollow pledge to decentralize power in the House earned him Freedom Caucus support in 2015, and now Ryan’s promise to toss a few crumbs to the Freedom Caucus could let him keep the gavel in the next Congress.
Politico describes the would-be deal as follows:
A sub-group of the Freedom Caucus discussed the plan at a secret meeting in Washington this week. The terms would be fairly straightforward: A Freedom Caucus member would be installed in a low-level, future leadership vacancy.
In return, Freedom Caucus members would get behind Ryan for another term as speaker. The group has the numbers to block Ryan from reaching 218 votes to clinch another term if they chose to — though they’re divided on whether they should try.
Conference vice chairwoman Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) and Conference secretary Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) are expected to vacate their leadership positions after the election. Another outside possibility would be to appoint a caucus member — or someone friendly with the group but also close to leadership — to an obscure, largely ceremonial leadership post known as “chairman of the leadership.” The position, which has been vacant for several years, is named by the speaker and not subject to election.
Another term in the Speaker’s chair for Ryan would represent a seal of approval of his controversial $1.1 trillion omnibus budget he rammed through the House last December.
Such a deal also comes at a time when FreedomWorks and members of the Freedom Caucus have voiced their intent to delay the GOP Conference Leadership elections until later in Obama’s lame-duck legislative session.
“We really should delay those leadership races for further on in December, or at least late November, to give all the newly elected members of Congress the chance to get to know people,” Mark Meadows, a leading conservative on the Freedom Caucus told media.