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Boehner: No Plan B if Ryan Opts Out

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:59 p.m. | If Paul D. Ryan can’t garner the support he’s seeking by the end of the week to officially enter the race for speaker, Republicans have no Plan B.  

Speaker John A. Boehner took a long pause at a Wednesday news conference when asked what the contingency plan would be if Ryan decides by his self-imposed Friday deadline not to run. “I don’t know,” Boehner said. “Hopefully by the end of the week we’ll have a nominee.”  

“Listen,” he added, “I think Paul is gonna get the support that he’s looking for. We all know Paul Ryan. He’s a very good member, he works hard, he’s very bright and he has good relationships, I think, with all the wings of the party, which is why I think he’ll be doing fine.”  

Boehner announced on Sept. 25 he would resign at the end of October. That timing is still possible, as Boehner announced Wednesday the conference would nominate a candidate for speaker on Oct. 28, with a confirmation vote on the House floor still on for the following day.

Timeline: To Be (or Not to Be) Speaker

But Boehner’s unwillingness to entertain hypotheticals casts a pall of uncertainty over the outgoing speaker’s exit and the party’s next steps in finding a new leader should one of the following scenarios play out: Ryan decides not to run, or he proceeds next week as a speaker candidate but fails to get 218 votes on the floor.  

When House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, not confident he could win members’ support, abruptly backed out of the speaker’s race on Oct. 8, Boehner promised to stay in office for as long as it took to put a successor in place.  

Ryan has said repeatedly he has not made a decision yet about whether he will run for speaker. That will be determined based in part on the outcome of a series of meetings Wednesday and Thursday with the House Freedom Caucus, the Republican Study Committee and the moderate Tuesday Group.  

The RSC met with Ryan at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, and the HFC was scheduled to huddle with Wisconsin lawmaker at 4 p.m. The Tuesday Group will meet with him Thursday at 10 a.m.  

A significant number of Freedom Caucus members are already lining up against him . The HFC endorsed Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., for speaker two weeks ago, lauding his commitment to process and his promise to lead a more open Republican Conference. Webster is not backing down in deference to Ryan’s likely candidacy , as others have done, like Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.  

Matt Fuller contributed to this report.


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