Ryan Expresses Confidence in Retaining House Speaker Post

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks at a news conference following a closed Republican party conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
House Speaker Paul Ryan. (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Speaker Paul Ryan expressed confidence Tuesday that House Republicans will re-elect him to his post for the next Congress, but didn’t rule out that disgruntled GOP lawmakers might scuttle that plan.

“I serve at the pleasure of our members,” Ryan, R-Wis., said when asked on Fox News whether he would step aside if Republican lawmakers wanted him to do so. But he added, “I feel very good where I am.”

A small number of Republicans, including members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, have suggested that GOP lawmakers should reconsider their leadership team after the Nov. 8 elections. House Republicans are scheduled to meet in mid-November, when Congress returns to the Capitol, to pick their leaders for next year’s Congress.

Ryan retains the support of a strong majority of congressional Republicans. But some GOP lawmakers are unhappy that he distanced himself from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and didn’t campaign for him. Others aren’t certain he’s conservative enough when it comes to cutting federal spending and on other issues.

“All the rest of this stuff will sort itself out,” Ryan said on Fox. “I’m very confident where I stand with our members,” and he added he is “happy to serve.”

Republicans hold a 247-188 House majority, including three vacant seats. Democrats have been expected to narrow that gap, perhaps significantly, in next week’s voting.

Even if House Republicans meeting this month nominate Ryan to be the next speaker, he will need a majority — 218 votes — to ensure his re-election to that job when the new House convenes Jan. 3.

A significant reduction in GOP seats would mean that just a handful of dissident Republicans could keep Ryan from being speaker.