That’s the rumor, and it’s been the rumor for a while. What’s changed is we now have Members of Congress openly discussing Scalise’s ascension to House Speaker, as this report from the Reno Gazette Journal informs us…
Nevada’s 2nd U.S. House District Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, said on Nevada Newsmakers Monday that Rep. Paul Ryan may soon resign as Speaker of the U.S. House.
Amodei said he was repeating a rumor that’s around Capitol Hill.
“The rumor mill is that Paul Ryan is getting ready to resign in the next 30 to 60 days and that Steve Scalise will be the new Speaker,” Amodei said.
“Now that is interesting because nobody has talked to members (of the U.S. House) on how they are going to vote (on new leadership),” Amodei said. “Now, maybe they have talked to all of the members but me. I don’t know, so that is the rumor mill from last week.”
Amodei suggested in that story Ryan and President Donald Trump have a “hot and cold” relationship, which is something of an understatement. Ryan has dabbled in NeverTrumpism, though he’s had enough of a working relationship with the president to pass last year’s tax reform bill, which was Ryan’s crown achievement in Congress.
Louisiana has never had a Speaker of the House, though we did have a near miss. Bob Livingston was in line to replace Newt Gingrich as Speaker in 1998, but amid the Bill Clinton impeachment scandal Livingston was forced to publicly abandon that ambition and resign from the House because of dirt involving an extramarital affair he’d had which was about to surface.
Livingston represented the same suburban New Orleans district Scalise currently represents.
Scalise would have to leapfrog House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in order to become Speaker, but the conventional wisdom on Capitol Hill is he would do just that. The two are friends, and McCarthy has trouble with an extramarital affair as well which could make him hard to elect as Speaker – so it’s probably easier for Scalise to be the choice for Speaker with McCarthy keeping his current position.
There had been talk Ryan would shepherd the House through to the 2018 midterm elections and then step down. Currently, and particularly with the negative reaction to the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill the House passed at Ryan’s direction, Ryan’s leadership might well be a drag on the Republicans’ midterm prospects. It might well be that the party’s political fortunes would benefit from a new leader in the Speaker’s chair, and Scalise might be the most popular member of Congress at present. He might be more likely to hold the GOP majority together than Ryan would this fall.
We’ll monitor this story to see if there is any more meat on the Scalise-To-Speaker story’s bones, but Amodei is only repeating something which has been percolating for some time.