The House of Representatives has no new leader in sight.
This time last week House Republicans were reeling from the announcement by frontrunner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that he was suddenly dropping out of the race to succeed Speaker John Boehner, whose earlier decision was equally shocking. The Congressman many are pinning their hopes on now is Paul Ryan, who doesn't want to be Speaker.
There are others interested in the job. The question is can any of them bring together a group seemingly at war with itself.
Speaking to NPR’s Renee Montagne on Morning Edition Friday, Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole said Ryan is the best man for the job because of his “genuine national stature.”
“The fact that he's been a Vice Presidential nominee. The fact that he's been, frankly, probably the intellectual leader of the Republican Party for close to a decade. He's really changed the way we think about and approach fiscal issues,” Cole said. “Second, he's chaired two committees. Finally, he's a person of absolute personal integrity. He's well-liked. He's respected on both sides of the aisle.”
But Ryan doesn’t want the post, and said he’s not running. But he’s indicated he could take the job if he were drafted. Cole said he doesn’t blame him for that position, but he’s still the candidate most likely to attract the broadest support.
“If Paul chose not to run, there's certainly other people that can do the job, but there would be a pretty vigorous competition. There's a lot of names floating,” Cole said. “And you also have to remember John Boehner remains Speaker until a new Speaker is chosen. I find part of the irony here is that some of the people that are critical of Paul detest John Boehner, and yet by attacking Paul Ryan they probably keep John Boehner in office longer. So that, to me, seems irrational.”
Cole said Congress routinely goes through chaotic periods like this, and has throughout its history. Be he said the chaos can be cathartic.
“For instance, we're going to have a brand-new person at the leadership table. That's something that the Freedom Caucus has wanted for a long time. And it's going to be at the most important position - at the Speaker's chair. And I think change is coming,” Cole said. “While you're doing it, you still have to function legislatively, and we've got a debt ceiling coming up on Nov. 5 and we have a sequester deadline on Jan. 1 that would absolutely devastate the American military - cut $40 billion. Those things have to be dealt with. So you'd like to have a leadership that's stable as you're going through that process.”