The GOP-controlled federal government is still chugging along this September, with Congress having just recently reconvened for their fall sessions with still pretty much nothing to show for the eight months that Donald Trump — who in theory should be on board with Congressional Republican plans — has been in office.
Now, the monumentally unpopular Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is in trouble. Evidently, he’s not only unpopular among members of the general public, but he’s also unpopular among members of his party. His seemingly endless political maneuverings have landed him in between a rock and a hard place so to speak — rather than everyone on the right liking him, nobody does.
The Washington Post spoke to nearly a dozen people close to Republican House leadership, and they revealed a startling bit of information. Thirty far-right members of the House, including House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan, have reportedly been holding talks among themselves over the question of what to do about Paul Ryan.
The discussion group — which reportedly has included recently ousted presidential chief strategist Steve Bannon at times — has reportedly floated the idea of recruiting either former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich or former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum to take over the Speaker of the House position from Paul Ryan. Both men, for what it’s worth, have run failed presidential campaigns, and both men have also long proven themselves as devoted allies of President Donald Trump.
Ryan has clashed with the members of the Freedom Caucus in the past, infamously excluding their concerns from discussions over a GOP health bill to the extent that the Freedom Caucus members are the ones responsible for dooming the first attempt at passing an ACA repeal in the House.
Ryan has also long clashed with Bannon, who has long seen him as a political lightweight who is not as committed to Donald Trump’s ideals as Bannon feels he should be.
To be sure, it’s not clear that either Santorum or Gingrich would ever be on board with replacing Ryan, and even if either one of the men were on board with the plan, it would still need the support of a majority of House Republicans, and it’s just hardly a given that such could be pulled off. Other options to replace Ryan include Representatives Steve Scalise and Kevin McCarthy.
Still, the reported talks indicate just how precarious the position of Congressional Republicans is. Additionally, the angst that underlies the talks could manifest in certain ways, even if not in having Ryan booted from office. The far-right conservatives brooding over possibly removing Ryan reportedly brought their concerns directly to the House Speaker, telling him “that his failure to enact conservative priorities could diminish his support among conservatives.”
Longtime GOP staffer Michael Steel summed up the whole question of whether or not rank and file Republicans ought to stage a challenge to Speaker Ryan by calling it “counterproductive to Republicans’ shared vision of conservative reform.”
Still, it’s not as though actions being counter productive has ever kept Republicans from forging full speed ahead.
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