By Mike DeBonis and Robert Costa,
Rep. Paul 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 unite 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 into the speaker’s role, ending weeks of GOP leadership turmoil, as long as disparate factions moved in the coming days to support 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 for years resisted pressure to assume a higher-profile role in party leadership. And he signaled Tuesday that his decision to serve was far from final.
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, a hard-right group that helped push Speaker John A. Boehner out of his post and derailed Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid to succeed him.
That meeting ended without specific commitments, according to members present, and at the subsequent GOP conference meeting, Ryan made clear he would need firm support from key groups by week’s end to move forward. The Freedom Caucus was explicitly mentioned, members said, as well as the conservative Republican Study Committee and the moderate Tuesday Group.
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’ve ever wanted, I’ve ever sought,” he said. “I came to the conclusion that this is a very dire moment, not just for Congress, not just for the Republican Party, but for our country.”
Should he agree to assume the speaker’s post, Ryan …Read More

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