WASHINGTON ― Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) suggested Friday that he would not vote for current House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to remain in the job, laying out a number of criteria for the next leader of the House GOP and raising the prospect that other Republicans may soon signal their intention to vote against Ryan on the floor in January.
“It would be very difficult for him to get my vote based on what I assume his motives are, which are to run for president in 2020,” Massie told The Huffington Post in a phone conversation.
The Kentucky Republican, who voted against Ryan last October and repeatedly led opposition to former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), emailed a statement to HuffPost where he explained what he thinks the next speaker should do “to restore the constitutional integrity of Congress.”
The next Speaker shouldn’t send the House on vacation for five weeks in August unless the appropriations bills are done. The next Speaker needs to make good on the broken promise to give members and the American public time to read the bills. The next Speaker should immediately put a stop to the institutionalized extortion that requires members to pay for their committee assignments with lobbyists’ money. Finally, the next Speaker needs to allow a debate on whether or not to authorize the military conflicts the President has unilaterally engaged us in around the globe.
Massie said he was not alone in thinking the next speaker should commit to these principles. “Privately, many members of the Freedom Caucus agree with my assertion that this is what the next speaker needs to do,” said Massie, who is not part of the House Freedom Caucus but is close with a number of the members.
Massie wouldn’t promise to vote against Ryan on the floor. “If Paul Ryan has a credible plan for restoring integrity of the House, then he can possibly get my vote,” Massie said. “But I suspect he’s more interested in running for president than making the changes in the House of Representatives.”
Members have discussed the idea of conservatives slowly coming out against Ryan in a sort of “drip, drip strategy,” in one Republican’s words, that would consume the news cycle after the election. But Massie isn’t waiting.
Asked why he decided to come out against Ryan now, just days before the election, Massie noted that House Republicans vote on leadership positions only a week after voters go to the polls.
“It’s time now to talk about the job description of the next speaker,” Massie said.
He again mentioned that other members agreed with his general principles, and suggested that others may sign on to this effort. “I expect many of them will wait until the day after the election to say what I’m saying now,” he said.
As for Massie, he wants to shape the discussion.
“Somebody needs to inject these ideas into the conversation, before it devolves into chaos and people start promising committee assignments,” he said.
There has been chatter about Ryan facing opposition from conservatives. They’ve been upset with Ryan not moving appropriations bills through the House, not getting a budget done, and even seeming to oppose GOP nominee Donald Trump
Some have recently said they expect Ryan to just resign. But Ryan has not indicated that he intends to do that. If he didn’t step down, Ryan could force a showdown on the House floor during the speaker election. And he could test the willingness of conservatives to actually vote against him.
In response to Massie’s criteria Friday, Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong told HuffPost, “The speaker’s only focus until Election Day is defeating Democrats and protecting our majority, and nothing else.”