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Ryan Gets The Support He Asks For In House Speaker Bid


Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan said he'd become speaker of the House if certain demands were met. One of them was met last night - or maybe. Ryan said he'd only run if he got nearly every House Republican to back him. And that includes a group of about 40 hardliners who helped push the current speaker, John Boehner, to resign. They're the House Freedom Caucus. They took a vote last night, which seemed on its face a little complicated. NPR's Ailsa Chang reports.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: It's actually very simple. The House Freedom Caucus doesn't endorse Ryan. But it supports him - make sense? Raul Labrador of Idaho breaks it down.

RAUL LABRADOR: A supermajority of the Freedom Caucus has agreed to support Paul Ryan.

CHANG: A supermajority, as in about two-thirds of them, say yes to Ryan. But here's the catch.

LABRADOR: The reality is that we didn't reach the supermajority threshold that we needed for the endorsement.

CHANG: You see, the Freedom Caucus needed 80 percent of its members on board to officially endorse Ryan. Two weeks ago, they voted to endorse Daniel Webster of Florida for speaker.

LABRADOR: We have not taken that away.

CHANG: Which means the Freedom Caucus is still technically endorsing Webster but intends to give Ryan the bulk of its votes - clear? Ryan says that's enough for him. He calls it a positive step toward a unified Republican team. And now Ryan definitely has enough votes to be speaker. A House leadership crisis appears to be over, except there is one thing that's still bugging some hard-line conservatives.

MICK MULVANEY: If you listen to Paul, what you hear is, I don't want the job.

CHANG: Republican Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina.

MULVANEY: He went from, I don't want it and I won't take it to, I don't want it but I might take it under certain terms and conditions. The preface to both of those statements is still I don't want it.

CHANG: And one of the conditions Ryan is insisting on is a no-go for many in the Freedom Caucus. He wants to change the rules to make it harder for a group like them to oust the speaker. But Freedom Caucus member Ted Yoho of Florida says forget it.

TED YOHO: It's like going to a job and saying, I'll take this job if I can't be fired.

CHANG: So even though the path is cleared for Ryan to take the gavel, the people he would be leading still say, if we want, we can kick you out. Ailsa Chang, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
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