Rep. Ryan flip-flops, backs Pelosi after deal struck on term limits

It was just last week that U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan told me regarding Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the H ouse: “I’m definitely going to vote no on the floor.”

Ryan of Howland, D-13th, was one of the leaders of the “Never Pelosi” movement that potentially had the votes to keep her from becoming speaker when the House votes on that position Jan. 3.

Ryan said last week that Pelosi shouldn’t be speaker.

“First and foremost, this was an election of change,” Ryan said. “Voters who voted for Democratic candidates voted for change. Many of those elected said they’d come to Washington and vote against Nancy Pelosi. It was the difference-maker in a lot of those elections. They were against the status quo.”

He also said that House members were having “their arms twisted” to vote for Pelosi and that “lobbyists and big-time donors are calling members of Congress to pressure them. It’s hard not to crack.”

Apparently, Ryan cracked.

Along with six other Democratic House members who vowed to oppose Pelosi for speaker, Ryan announced he would support her for the leadership position as part of a deal cut to limit her time in the job.

It means that Pelosi will be elected speaker Jan. 3.

The agreement would have Pelosi support a change to Democratic House Caucus rules to implement term limits for the top three leaders.

If approved, those top three leaders would be allowed to serve only one more term unless they could secure two-thirds of the caucus’ support for an extra term, starting in 2021.

Even if the caucus doesn’t approve the rule change, Pelosi says she’d abide by it.

Two weeks ago, a term-limit request was made to Pelosi, but she rejected it.

Ryan had said he had no interest at the time in voting for Pelosi for another term regardless of the situation.

But late Wednesday, after the deal was struck, Ryan said: “When I joined this effort four weeks ago, I said our goal was to think seriously about transitioning our caucus leadership to a new generation of Democrats in the House. The agreement announced today is a historic step in that direction. I have also been clear from the start that this effort was never about one person – but our entire Democratic leadership team, which has been in power for 16 years. As such, I intend to fight alongside my colleagues to make sure the entire leadership team and future leadership teams are bound by this deal.”

He also said: “I am very proud to have joined with my colleagues to make lasting positive change to our party – change that will ensure Democrats are in the best possible position to fight, and win, for hard working families.”

Mandi Merritt, the Republican National Committee’s Ohio spokeswoman, said: “One by one, House Democrats in Ohio and across the country have turned their back on their constituents and fallen in line to vote for their anointed leader. We always knew a vote for any Democrat was a vote for Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco agenda, and [Wednesday’s] move by Tim Ryan proved just that. Pelosi rebels? No such thing.”

Again it was just last week Ryan told me he was concerned that Democrats were ignoring the Midwest. This deal does nothing to change that for the next two years in which Democrats will control the House for the first time since 2010.

Ryan had said: “We’ve turned completely into a coastal party. There’s a concern that our party has been tied to the coasts and lost its connection to working people.”

He was also concerned that incoming members made promises not to vote for Pelosi for speaker. With the established members, such as Ryan, ready to back her, most of those newbies will likely be spared having to go back on their promises.

But what about Ryan, who had said numerous times he wouldn’t support Pelosi as speaker?

It was somewhat curious to me why Ryan so strongly wanted to keep Pelosi from being the House Democratic leader.

He hitched his political wagon to her early in his career, and it landed him a spot on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He will be named next month as chairman of the Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee.

But things soured between the two with Ryan unsuccessfully challenging Pelosi for House Democratic leader in late 2016, losing 134 to 63.

While Ryan has repeatedly tried to distance himself from Pelosi, this decision will only convince his detractors the two are the same.

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