Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told Breitbart News Tonight earlier this week that House Republicans are considering forcibly removing House Speaker Paul Ryan from the speakership via a “motion to vacate the chair” over Ryan’s efforts to undermine President Donald Trump’s agenda.
“It’s kind of odd that he has as much power as he has,” King said of Ryan during the appearance on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel with Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak on Breitbart News Tonight earlier this week. “But I do predict, and it is happening, that that power is diminishing. I also have got information that there are-I’ll say ‘members’-I say that plurally, with knowledge, that are considering introducing a motion to vacate the chair. If they do that, that will throw this place into a tizzy and force the kind of election for a Speaker that may bring out someone who is a lot stronger on this.”
A motion to vacate the chair would call a referendum on Ryan’s speakership to the floor. It could force a vote on whether Republicans want Ryan to remain as speaker as a lame duck for the rest of the year, especially after all these failures in strategy and his efforts to undermine the president with an amnesty bill that the president opposes and said he “certainly” would never sign.
Ryan claimed, falsely, to House Republican members recently in a conference meeting that the president did support the Ryan amnesty bill-something the president confirmed on Fox and Friends on Friday morning was not true.
The president opposes the bill and Ryan’s continued claims that Trump did back the bill are now proven to be false.
The fact that sitting House Republican members are contemplating calling forth a motion to vacate the chair-the same mechanism forced Ryan’s predecessor, now former House Speaker John Boehner into early retirement-is remarkable. He announced earlier this year he intends to serve out the rest of this term in Congress then retire at the beginning of next year. That thrust Ryan into a lame duck status in the speakership, meaning he has lost a significant amount of influence.
“From the time that Paul Ryan announced that he would be retiring at the end of this Congress, his juice has been diminished day by day by day,” King said on Breitbart News Tonight. “It’s not a personal thing. It’s just a function of how things work. He has less power, less influence, and yet he’s still leading us into this amnesty piece. People are acting like he’s the Speaker of the House who will be deciding who can chair which committees, who can be seated on which committees, and whose bills move forward in the next Congress. But that will not be the case.”
Ryan’s dwindling influence is costing him support across the party. One House GOP aide from a moderate office whose member sits on the House Appropriations Committee confirmed to Breitbart News that if offered the opportunity again to vote on whether Ryan should remain Speaker, that the member would vote against it. Conservatives across the party have been calling for Ryan to step aside now from the Speakership, with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) saying in a previous Breitbart News radio interview that Ryan should not be allowed to stay as a lame duck speaker-especially while he’s opposing the president’s agenda on immigration, trade, national security, and more.
Ryan has deliberately undercut the president repeatedly as Speaker. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Ryan infamously cut ties with Trump and abandoned the now-president’s campaign in early October over the release of the notorious Access Hollywood tape. In leaked audio of Ryan with House Republican members obtained by Breitbart News and published in early 2017, the Speaker threw in with the Never Trump movement by declaring he would never side with the president.
“I am not going to defend Donald Trump-not now, not in the future,” Ryan said on that call, declaring boldly his alignment with the Never Trump movement in that he will never defend the president.
Ryan is directly responsible for the legislative screw-ups on healthcare which cost President Trump the ability to sign into law a repeal of Obamacare, because Ryan’s original bill last year sent the entire process into disarray that ended with the now-famous thumbs-down from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on the floor of the Senate. All of that could have been avoided had Ryan worked with conservatives and supporters of the president in the beginning to have a more smooth process in the House.
Then, Ryan undercut Trump on Charlottesville, directly contradicting the president’s statement. Ryan’s statement, per the Los Angeles Times, was aimed at “implicitly upbraiding the president ”
Ryan has opposed key elements of the Trump agenda, specifically on trade and tariffs, repeatedly over the course of the past year.
“I disagree with this action and fear its unintended consequences,” Ryan said in a statement when President Trump introduced steel and aluminum tariffs.
Now, the latest intransigent action by Ryan is the introduction of an amnesty bill that the president explicitly opposes-and the lie by Ryan that the president somehow supported it. Ryan repeatedly claimed to House members that President Trump backed the bill, when the president had not weighed in on it publicly. The first time the president weighed in on it was Friday morning in a Fox and Friends interview where Trump explicitly said he will never sign Ryan’s bill into law.
If a motion to vacate the chair is introduced, and then voted upon, in the House, it is unclear if Ryan would win re-election as a lame duck Speaker. His chief spokesman Brendan Buck did not reply when asked by Breitbart News on Friday whether Ryan would win re-election-he would need 218 votes-or if Republican House members would vote for someone new who is more in line with the president and his agenda.
This amnesty battle also presents a major conundrum for potential future leaders of the party. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the two most likely to succeed Ryan as Speaker and third-in-line to the presidency, face major pitfalls ahead. Scalise has been whipping for the Ryan bill, at least for now, pushing members to vote for it. McCarthy, meanwhile, through a spokesman has declined to say at this point whether he will stand with the president or stand with the lame duck Ryan.
President Trump could end all of this now, and put his agenda on a glide path, by calling for a vote in the House on the speakership-asking members to push Ryan out and start anew with somebody who actually stands with him and his agenda. Presidents generally have such control over their party, but Trump’s rambunctious unexpected-by-DC-elites rise to the White House froze some of that for him. He could, now that he has accustomed himself to the Oval Office and demonstrated his success as president, push out those old forces who stand against him and march into the future with somebody who will fight by his side.
It remains to be seen exactly what will happen on all these fronts, but one thing is very clear: Ryan is in trouble, and his opposition to the president and his agenda growing more clear and loud especially on a hot-button issue like immigration is putting him in deeper danger.