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Boehner Sets Date to Pick Successor


FILE - House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill.

FILE - House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Outgoing Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner has set October 28 as the date for party members to select their nominee for his replacement.

Boehner said that after House Republicans select their candidate next Wednesday, the full chamber will vote on his replacement on Thursday.

The outgoing speaker also exprssed support Wednesday for influential Congressman Paul Ryan, who has said he will run for House Speaker, but only if he has the support of all factions within the badly splintered Republican Party.

Speaking Tuesday after meeting privately with Republican leaders at the U.S. Capitol, Ryan told reporters he is giving his colleagues until Friday to make a decision on his list of demands.

"What I told members is if you can agree to these requests and if I can truly be a unifying figure then I will gladly serve," Ryan said. "And if I'm not unifying then that will be fine as well. I will be happy to stay where I'm at."

Ryan, who serves as the chairman of the House's main tax-writing committee, has repeatedly said he is not interested in serving as speaker, a position that would put him second, behind the vice president, in the presidential line of succession.

Freedom Caucus

The position came open earlier this month after current speaker,Boehner, was forced out by the Freedom Caucus, a 40-member group of Republicans that takes a hard line supporting limited government.

The party was thrown into further disarray after the consensus candidate to replace Boehner, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, unexpectedly dropped out of the speaker's race, partly because of pressure from the Freedom Caucus.

Ryan, who is seen as one of the only candidates who could draw support from disparate elements within the party, Tuesday signaled he would need to have clear support from the Freedom Caucus, as well as the two more moderate factions within House GOP leadership: the Tuesday Caucus and the Republican Study Committee.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California leaves a news conference after dropping out of the race to replace House Speaker John Boehner, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 8, 2015.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California leaves a news conference after dropping out of the race to replace House Speaker John Boehner, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 8, 2015.

'Family time' comes first

The 45-year-old congressman and father of three, who leaves Washington every week to spend time with his family, also laid out several other requirements, including a stipulation that his "family commitments come first."

"I cannot and will not give up my family time," he said. "I may not be on the road as much as previous speakers, but I pledge to make up for it with more time communicating our mission [and] our message."

The 2012 vice presidential candidate also expressed support for the Freedom Caucus' attempts to change House procedural rules in order to give less senior members more equal authority. But he said any such decision must be reached by consensus.

‘Need to do this as a team'

"We need to update our House rules so that everyone can be a more effective representative. This is, after all, the people's house. But we need to do this as a team and it needs to include fixes that ensure that we do not experience constant leadership challenges and crisis," he said.

One such change, Ryan said, would be to do away with the procedure for "vacating the chair," a technical maneuver that can be used by other members of Congress to oust a sitting House speaker.

The procedure has become a powerful way for the Freedom Caucus to enforce its agenda, but in Ryan's view it has also become a destabilizing influence for the Republican Party.

In his remarks, Ryan lamented the dysfunction within the Republican Party. "We need to move from being an opposition party to a proposition party," he said.

Reaction

It is not clear whether Ryan's statement will be well-received by the Freedom Caucus. One caucus member, Congressman Scott Perry, sounded unconvinced, in remarks published by the Associated Press.

"I think he has to campaign for it. We've heard one speech," Perry said. "We're willing to listen, but it's the beginning of the conversation, as far as I'm concerned."

Boehner had initially vowed to remain as speaker only until the end of October, when he planned to leave Congress. However, after the withdrawal of McCarthy from the leadership race, Boehner said he would remain speaker until the election of a successor.

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