House Republicans renominated Speaker Paul D. Ryan as their leader Tuesday, quieting rumors of an initial revolt in the party in the wake of feuding between Ryan and President-elect Donald Trump while Democrats grappled with their own potential insurrection.
To retain the speaker’s job, Ryan, of Wisconsin, will still have to clear a vote by the full House when the new Congress assembles in January — when he must win at least 218 votes. With the results of a few contests outstanding, Republicans will hold at least 239 seats, leaving a relatively healthy margin for dissent in their ranks. House Republicans said on Twitter that Ryan’s selection was unanimous.
But Ryan will have more than his contentious relationship with Trump to navigate. Stephen Bannon, the former chairman of Breitbart News, whom Trump named as his chief strategist, is a longtime critic of Ryan.
Although he endorsed Trump and urged Americans to vote for him in the days leading up to the election, Ryan repeatedly criticized Trump’s more inflammatory statements during the campaign, once criticizing his proposed ban on Muslims as “not what this country stands for.” After the release of a 2005 recording in which Trump boasted in vulgar terms about sexually assaulting women, Ryan disinvited him to a planned joint appearance in Wisconsin and told Republicans he would no longer defend him nor campaign for him. Trump had said privately before his victory that Ryan should be punished for not offering his full support.
House Democrats postponed their own elections until Nov. 30 during a meeting behind closed doors to discuss last week’s painful losses and their leadership. A group of at least 25 members had been pushing to delay the vote, which had been scheduled for Thursday, until after Thanksgiving.
Some members have urged Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio to challenge Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, who has led House Democrats since 2003. He has not yet decided whether to run against her. But some Democrats think they should take their bruising White House defeat as a signal that it is time for new leadership. Democrats had a net gain of six House seats so far.
“Who is the leader that can go into those Southern states? Who is the leader who can go into the Midwestern states and begin to pull those voters back in our camp?” Tim Ryan, 43, said after the meeting. “That’s the question. That’s the discussion we need to have.”
Pelosi, 76, rejected the idea that the election sent a message to House Democrats, saying it had more to do with the presidential race. She said holding the election after next week’s recess would not allow much time to hash out any differences.
Asked if she sees the pushback from some members as a repudiation of her leadership, Pelosi added, “No, I don’t.”
On Tuesday, Republicans also re-elected Reps. Kevin McCarthy of California, Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington as their majority leader, whip and conference chairwoman, offering an endorsement of the leadership that helped them maintain a sizable majority in last week’s election.
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