By Mike DeBonis and Robert Costa,
Rep. Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) moved closer to the House speakership Tuesday, telling fellow Republicans that he would consider taking the job if he could be assured that the caucus would stand behind him.
Ryan faced his colleagues — and his political future — at a private evening meeting of House Republicans in the Capitol basement. He said he would be willing to step up and meet the calls to serve, ending weeks of GOP leadership turmoil, as long as disparate factions moved in the coming days to unite around him.
“I hope it doesn’t sound conditional, but it is,” he said, according to members inside the room. He paused after saying the word “conditional,” they said, for effect.
Ryan, the 45-year-old chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and a 2012 vice presidential nominee, has long resisted pressure to assume a higher-profile role in party leadership. And he signaled Tuesday that his decision to serve was far from assured.
Much depends on what assurances of support he can win from Republican hard-liners. Before entering the evening meeting, Ryan met privately with leaders of the House Freedom Caucus, an influential group that helped push Speaker John A. Boehner out of his post and derailed Majority Leader Kevin O. McCarthy’s bid to succeed him.
That meeting ended without firm commitments, and at the subsequent GOP conference meeting, Ryan made clear he would need a formal endorsement from the Freedom Caucus before moving forward.
In remarks to reporters, Ryan laid out his vision for moving the House GOP from “being an opposition party to being a proposition party” and set terms under which he would assume the speaker’s post. Those terms effectively put the onus on his colleagues to coalesce behind him rather than forcing Ryan to campaign for the job.
“This is not a job I ever sought; this is not a job I ever wanted,” he said. “I came to the conclusion that this was a dire moment.”
Should he agree to assume the speaker’s post, Ryan would once again emerge as a leading force in national politics, three years after serving as his party’s vice presidential nominee and amid mass unrest in GOP ranks.
“If Paul Ryan can’t unite us, …Read More

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