An influential conservative group is urging the Republican-led House to postpone its looming leadership vote, potentially offering House Speaker Paul Ryan a chance to get his ‘house’ in order at a time when his detractors are renewing threats to oust him in the aftermath of the “chaotic” 2016 election.
The Tea Party-tied FreedomWorks sent a message Monday to the House Republican Caucus telling members to wait until December to decide on a speaker.
FreedomWorks leader Adam Brandon said Tuesday the push does not reflect support for Ryan; only a call for members “to reassess and reflect” after a “historically long, chaotic election cycle.”
“This is not a pro-Ryan or anti-Ryan,” he told FoxNews.com. “There’s just no reason to rush. It’s a delicate process. Take your time and get it right.”
Brandon also said his group is “very close in mind” to the House Freedom Caucus, a leading critic of Ryan since the chamber elected him speaker in fall 2015.
But any delay in the speaker nomination could give Ryan extra time to mend a divided conference and even deliver on conservative wish list items in the lame-duck session.
Brandon urged Ryan to “fight for fiscal sanity and conservative priorities” upon returning to Capitol Hill, especially when it comes to a government spending bill — suggesting Ryan’s political future should be tied to those results.
The House leadership has given no indication it would even consider postponing such a vote. Newly elected members customarily join sitting members in November in a private session to casts the leadership votes, then have a full floor vote in January when the new Congress convenes.
Republican strategist Rob Carter on Tuesday downplayed the call for a delay from FreedomWorks.
“They’re trying to gin up contributions. I get it. But as for the substance of it, I cannot take it seriously,” he said. “The House Republican Conference will hold its leadership vote like it always does. Paul Ryan does not lack for support from Republicans with the exception of a handful trying to disrupt.”
Ryan still faces a restive chamber upon his return, after a presidential race that divided Republican lawmakers and saw Ryan distancing himself from presidential nominee Donald Trump. And the challenges he confronted upon becoming speaker in October 2015 remain.
As recently as last month, before Congress broke for the elections, Ryan agreed to a so-called continuing resolution to keep the government open past Dec. 31.
However, he needed votes from Democrats upon losing support from the House Freedom Caucus and other fiscally conservative Republicans in the chamber, in large part because such a resolution maintains spending levels instead of cutting them.
In addition, the final bill failed to include a measure to halt President Obama’s plan to accept Syrian refugees or cut Planned Parenthood money in exchange for more funding to combat the Zika virus.
John Boehner, the House speaker before Ryan, was effectively run out by conservatives for similarly cutting deals with Democrats to pass legislation.
Ryan splitting with Trump after an audiotape surfaced of him bragging in 2005 about kissing and groping women has only increased the rift with some House members.
The 30-member Freedom Caucus held a mid-October conference call in which members reportedly discussed backing an alternative to Ryan for speaker.
North Carolina GOP Rep. Mark Meadows, a Freedom Caucus member, later told a local radio station the effort to replace Ryan is “picking up some steam.”
“A lot of people who believe so desperately that we need to put Donald Trump in the White House — they question the loyalty of the speaker,” he said on WAAV Radio.
Rank-and-file House Republicans are trying to help Ryan in case of a revolt.
California Rep. Devin Nunes recently made a proposal to stop any member from trying to oust the speaker with a procedure called a “motion to vacate the chair.” The motion results in a vote of no confidence that the speaker must defeat with a majority. The Nunes proposal reportedly would require majority support for the motion to be filed.
Ryan has, meanwhile, continued to fulfill his promise to help Republicans this election cycle keep control of the House and Senate, while not campaigning for Trump. Supporters say Ryan remains in high demand across the country.
He has so far this month attended at least 75 events across at least 17 states in support of GOP House incumbents and challengers and reportedly raised $50 million this year, with more than half going to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
And in the final four days of the 2016 campaign, Ryan is expected to visit an additional four states and join incumbent GOP Sen. Ron Johnson on a bus tour across their home state of Wisconsin.
Ryan will have visited 21 states from October through early November in support of House and Senate candidates.