WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2015 - After winning over hard-line conservatives, Paul Ryan made it official that he’s running for House speaker.Ryan, R-Wisc., released a statement to colleagues Thursday saying that he is “ready and able to be our speaker.”
Ryan, now the Ways and Means Committee chairman, had announced to House Republicans Tuesday night that he would seek the speakership if the party would unify around him. He then cleared the biggest test of unity Wednesday evening when 72 percent of the House Freedom Caucus agreed to support him, said one member, Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga. Eighty percent was needed for the group's formal endorsement. The group didn't release the exact number of members who support Ryan, but the caucus has about 40.
“I never thought I’d be speaker. But I pledged to you that if I could be a unifying figure, then I would serve - I would go all in,” Ryan said in his statement. “After talking with so many of you, and hearing your words of encouragement, I believe we are ready to move forward as a one, united team,” Ryan said.
Ryan made an important commitment to Freedom Caucus members that he wouldn’t allow an immigration reform bill to move unless a majority of Republicans support it, according to Mo Brooks, R-Ala. The pledge would make it more difficult to pass a bill that provide a path to legal status for immigrants.
A more moderate Republican who is not in the Freedom Caucus, Charles Dent of Illinois, told reporters that Ryan didn’t make any “accommodations” to conservatives to win the speakership. Asked about the commitment on immigration legislation, Dent said, “I didn’t hear that. I don’t know if it is true.”
“We can’t on the one hand allow a small majority of our members dictate who is the next speaker, then on the other hand, those same members turn around and insist on the Hastert rule,” Dent said, referring to an informal standard that legislation should require a majority vote of the majority party to pass.