Republican House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that he has scheduled elections to pick his successor for next week and expressed confidence that GOP members would get behind a run for the post by former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, R-Wis..
House Republicans will select their candidate for speaker next Wednesday, and the full House will vote the following Thursday, said Boehner.
Speaking at a press conference the day after a closed-door meeting of the House Republicans, Boehner put his backing behind Ryan, who would become the leading candidate for the speakership, should he enter the contest.
"I think Paul is going to get the support that he's looking for," said Boehner. "He laid out a clear vision of how he would run the speakership, and I think the members responded very well to it."
Ryan is seeking unity from divided House Republicans before he will serve as their speaker — a tall order, as the split between GOP pragmatists and hard-liners has all but paralyzed Congress and roiled the presidential race.
Ryan's message to his colleagues: Embrace him as their consensus candidate by week's end or he won't seek the job, plunging the House into deeper chaos, with deadlines on an unprecedented government default and the budget fast approaching.
He wants the endorsement of the major caucuses of the House, including the Freedom Caucus, the group whose threats against Boehner pushed him to announce he would resign by month's end and then forced Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to abruptly drop his campaign to replace him.
Members of the Freedom Caucus expressed reservations about some of Ryan's conditions for pursuing the job.
"He could be a good speaker of the House," said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho. "But the only concern that I have right now is it appears that he is asking for more power to be in the speaker's office instead of less power. Now I may have misunderstood what he was asking for, so that's why I want to hear more from him."
"I think he has to campaign for it. We've heard one speech," added Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. "We're willing to listen, but it's the beginning of the conversation, as far as I'm concerned."
Ryan laid out a number of conditions under which he would serve, aimed at clearing an atmosphere of constant chaos and crisis in the House as tea-party-backed lawmakers pushed for confrontation with the White House.
He said he encourages changes to rules and procedures — something eagerly sought by members of the Freedom Caucus, who claim they have been shut out of legislating in the House. But he said any such changes must be made as a team, with input from all. He also said he wants a change in the process for motions to vacate the chair, the procedure that conservatives were threatening against Boehner, which would have resulted in a floor vote on his speakership and ultimately drove him to resign.
Boehner said the meeting between Ryan and other party members "went very well." "Hopefully by the end of the week, we'll have a nominee," he added.
Asked what would happen if the party did not agree on a successor by Friday, Boehner said he didn't know.
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press