Yesterday, Rep. Paul Ryan said that he plans to seek the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means committee, according to the Wall Street Journal. This is a big hint that he isn’t planning on running for president in 2016.
The Republican Party has a non-binding standard that a representative can only serve as the ranking member or chairman of a committee for six consecutive years. Leadership will make exceptions in certain cases, such as with Ryan himself and his chairmanship of the House Budget Committee. Ryan became ranking member of the committee in 2007 then ascended to chairman when Republicans took back the House in 2011. He was already granted a fourth term as the leading Republican on the committee during this Congress. He won’t get another one.
That has fuelled speculation that Ryan will seek the chairmanship of a different committee, in particular the House Ways and Means Committee which is responsible for tax reform. Current chairman Rep. Dave Camp faces term-limit restrictions there.
Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee is a powerful position, but also one creates a host of enemies if Ryan attempts to pass anything consequential as he likely will. It’s hard to forge any major deal with tax reform and entitlements and not infuriate people along the way. It’s not a good position on which to base a presidential run.
In addition, Republican leaders will likely want assurances from Ryan that he intends to stay chairman for more than one term. Ryan knows this as well. That’s another indication that Ryan does not plan on running for president in 2016.
However, Ryan is not certain to earn the gavel of the committee. He has to jump two senior members, Rep. Kevin Brady and Rep. Sam Johnson, to do so. If Republican leadership instead choose one of them, that could change Ryan’s decision to forego a presidential run. But right now, his desire to become Ways and Means chairman is a major hint that his presidential ambitions are on hold.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.