As happy as hardline conservatives were to see John Boehner give up his spot as Speaker of the House, they were less thrilled when they realized his replacement would be Rep. Paul Ryan. And while Ryan did a somewhat better job of keeping the various Republican factions of the House in working order, he didn’t do himself any favors with the electorate with his hostile approach to Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign season. Ryan never came right out on television and denounced Trump (like, say, Mitt Romney did), but he waited a long, long time to endorse him. And then, when the Access Hollywood tape broke, backpedaled away from him as quickly as he could.
Since Trump took office, Ryan has been a surprisingly close ally to the president, however. Reports say that Trump speaks highly of the Speaker behind closed doors and we haven’t seen the kind of public feuding between the two as we have, say, between Trump and Mitch McConnell over in the Senate. Even so, Ryan’s national poll numbers have been abysmal and Trump supporters still see him as a stubborn member of the Establishment. Many wonder if he’s really committed to Trump’s agenda…or if he’s simply trying to use the president to push through his own pocket desires.
According to at least one congressman, trying to discern Ryan’s motivations may no longer be a worthy pastime. Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada says that current scuttlebutt on Capitol Hill has it that Ryan’s days at the most powerful Republican in Congress are coming to an end.
“The rumor mill is that Paul Ryan is getting ready to resign in the next 30 to 60 days and that Steve Scalise will be the new Speaker,” Amodei said in an interview with Nevada Newsmakers. “Now that is interesting because nobody has talked to members on how they are going to vote (on new leadership). Now, maybe they have talked to all of the members but me. I don’t know, so that is the rumor mill from last week.”
It’s worth remembering that Ryan did everything he could to avoid taking the Speaker job in the first place. This is a man who has the presidency on his Goal Map, and political wisdom says that you don’t get to the White House from the Speaker’s podium. So perhaps he wants to take a step back, fade away a little, and then come back swinging in 2024 (he wouldn’t dare try to primary Trump).
Or perhaps it’s just another rumor from a chaotic Washington. Guess we’ll find out in the coming weeks.