Senate Democrat Reid on House speaker job: I'm a Paul Ryan fan

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 20, 2015 2:55 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said on Tuesday that Republican Representative Paul Ryan would be a "reasonable" speaker of the House of Representatives, as House Republicans continued waiting to hear whether Ryan wants to run for the post.

Reid called himself a "Paul Ryan fan" even though he acknowledged he disagrees with Ryan much of the time. Many congressional Republicans have been trying to get Ryan to run for the job to replace House Speaker John Boehner, who is retiring after years of battles with the right wing of his own party.

A spokesman for the 45-year-old Ryan, Brendan Buck, said he did not expect Ryan to make a final decision on Tuesday about whether to run, but was willing to talk about it to fellow lawmakers.

"If asked to, I imagine he'd share his thoughts" about running, Buck said of Ryan.

House Republicans returning from a week-long recess were expected to have closed-door meetings both Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Reid, whose politics are anathema to many of the same right-wingers who battled Boehner, brought up Ryan's name at a regular news conference while urging congressional action to raise the limit on U.S. borrowing authority before a Nov. 3 deadline.

The top Senate Democrat read to reporters a Ryan statement saying that it would be dangerous for the United States to miss a bond payment, and added "I hope (he) gets to be the next speaker".

"It appears to me that he would be one of the people over there (in the House) that would be reasonable," Reid said when reporters pressed him on the matter, adding: "I mean, look at some of the other people."

Ryan is considered the favorite among possible replacements for Boehner, although two other Republicans are announced candidates and some others have said they are considering running if Ryan doesn't.

When a reporter pointed out that Reid's endorsement would not help Ryan win Republican votes, Reid countered, "I just speak the truth."

"I'm a Paul Ryan fan," he said, adding, "I don't agree with him on much of what he does." In particular, Reid said, he disagreed with Ryan's policies on the Medicare and Medicaid healthcare programs for the elderly and low-income Americans.

"But generally speaking I think ... we've been able to work with him," Reid said. Ryan reached a bipartisan budget deal in 2013.

Buck said he had no comment on Reid's remarks.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Sandra Maler)