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Paul Ryan consolidates support for House speaker bid (w/video)

Rep. Paul Ryan said Thursday he would seek to become House speaker after key GOP factions pledged their support, ending two weeks of drama and doubt about the Wisconsin Republican's intentions.

"After talking with so many of you, and hearing your words of encouragement, I believe we are ready to move forward as a one, united team," he told colleagues in a letter. "And I am ready and eager to be our speaker."

The announcement leaves little doubt it will be Ryan, 45, who takes the gavel from outgoing Speaker John Boehner when he leaves office next week. Boehner on Wednesday set the vote on his successor for Oct. 29, a day before he intends to resign.

Ryan's decision came after a week's contemplation with his family in Wisconsin, followed by a 48-hour frenzy of meetings and conversations with colleagues about his possible ascension to the top job.

The climax came Thursday when the Tuesday Group of GOP moderates backed Ryan by acclamation in a morning meeting, then the conservative Republican Study Committee announced its endorsement in the afternoon.

"I am confident that he is the right person to lead the House going forward," RSC Chairman Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, said in a statement that followed what he called an "overwhelming" vote of the group's steering committee. "He has the policy expertise, conservative principles and strong values we need in our next Speaker."

Ryan requested both endorsements as part of a three-pronged test of GOP unity he laid out before he would formally agree to serve as speaker. The third prong — the hard-line House Freedom Caucus — said Wednesday night Ryan had "supermajority" support in its ranks.

In his letter, Ryan signaled to House conservatives, many of whom have raised questions about the way the House is managed, that he would work closely with them to revise internal rules: "We can make the House a more open and inclusive body — one where every member can contribute to the legislative process."

He also hinted at some legislative priorities, including tax reform, his bailiwick as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and poverty, which has become a concentration of Ryan's since his 2012 vice president run.

Ryan's announcement late Thursday marked the possible beginning of the end for a tumultuous leadership contest that began last month with Boehner's resignation.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who dropped out of the speaker's race on Oct. 8, said he thought Ryan was in "very strong shape" to secure the job.

Asked why during House votes on Thursday afternoon, McCarthy quipped: "Because when I ran, 80 percent of the Freedom Caucus was against me, and now they're not" against Ryan.

There are still signs the hard right could complicate life for a Speaker Ryan. The Freedom Caucus stopped short of granting Ryan a formal endorsement, which would have required an 80 percent vote of the roughly 40-member group. And anti-establishment conservative activists continued to lambaste Ryan.

“I am ready and eager to be our speaker,” Rep. Paul Ryan tells House colleagues.

“I am ready and eager to be our speaker,” Rep. Paul Ryan tells House colleagues.

Paul Ryan consolidates support for House speaker bid (w/video) 10/22/15 [Last modified: Thursday, October 22, 2015 9:54pm]
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