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The saga in the House continues: On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan, who for weeks had been maintaining that he didn’t want to replace outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner, told Republican colleagues that he would run for the position on one important condition (via Politico):

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan told House Republicans Tuesday evening he is willing to serve as speaker of the House if he is the unity candidate, with all the major caucuses endorsing him.

He is giving the House Republican Conference until Friday to decide whether it is behind him.

Earlier Tuesday, The New York Times ran a story taking stock of the time-sensitive situation on Capitol Hill as Ryan prepared to meet with members of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus (HFC):

Less than two weeks after Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the majority leader, withdrew his name from consideration, House Republicans returned from a weeklong recess to the reality that they had not found a willing candidate capable of uniting their ranks.

Compounding the pressure to settle on a new speaker is the fact that the country’s borrowing authority is set to expire in about two weeks, and a short-term budget measure to avert a government shutdown will run out in less than two months.

While Mr. Boehner, who plans to resign at the end of the month, said he would stay until his successor was named, some members have indicated that they may move to force him out. Without a speaker, House operations would be at a virtual standstill, raising the possibility of an economically and politically perilous default on the nation’s debt.

Meanwhile, MSNBC has sussed out some of the potential conflicts awaiting Ryan in the event that he fills Boehner’s post:

The caucus has plenty of critics who argue it isn’t interested in finding solutions but instead in throwing verbal bombs and building procedural obstacles — which could have the unintended consequence of giving power to House Democrats by further dividing the GOP caucus. Boehner himself has referred to the HFC members as “knuckleheads.” Others have called them a “brat pack” and a secretive “fight club.”

“It’s a group of members who are engaged more in a game, a political game, and have more contempt for government than anything else,” said Thomas Mann, a congressional scholar and senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution. “They are effective in destroying things but not effective in achieving anything.”

[…] But perhaps the biggest influence the HFC has had is that several lawmakers, as a result of the group, are now skeptical about wanting the speaker’s job at all — because spending the next year feuding with the caucus’ hard-line conservatives must sound like a nightmare.

“I think Ryan would be nuts to take the job because he’ll probably find himself in a position where he has to take actions to compromise, which will lead them to withdraw their support … It’s a dilemma that’s going to continue as long as the Freedom Caucus exists,” said Mann. The solution? “Drive them out of the party if you want to succeed in being a governing party. Otherwise the farce and chaos will continue indefinitely.”

Good luck with that, Rep. Ryan.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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