US and Canada

Paul Ryan will run for House Speaker if party unites

Rep. Paul Ryan, R- Wis., speaks at a news conference following a House Republican meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Image copyright AP
Image caption "We as a conference should unify now," Mr Ryan said

Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan has said he will serve as US House Speaker if Republicans in the chamber unite behind his candidacy.

Mr Ryan, who ran as Mitt Romney's vice-presidential candidate in 2012, is seen as his party's best hope to elect an effective Congressional leader.

A group of ultra-conservative House members have recently rebelled against party leaders.

House Speaker John Boehner resigned last month under pressure.

Mr Boehner's handpicked successor House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew from consideration after it was clear he did not have the support of the ultra-conservative bloc known as the Freedom Caucus.

Freedom Caucus, a group of about 30 to 40 members, demanded key concessions from Mr McCarthy. The California representative reportedly said he could not effectively lead the House under those conditions.

The very public party infighting has been seen detrimental to the Republicans' goal of retaining control of Congress and re-taking the White House in 2016.

"We as a conference should unify now," Mr Ryan told reporters on Tuesday after meeting with House Republicans. "What I told members is if you can agree to these requests and if I can truly be a unifying figure, then I will gladly serve, and if I am not unifying, that is fine as well - I will be happy to stay where I am."

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Media captionIn the US government, Speaker of the House seems like a good job. Why does no one want it?
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Boehner (right) and Mr McCarthy have been struggling to govern a divided majority

Mr Ryan gave his colleagues until Friday to express their support.

Mr Ryan had been reluctant to serve, preferring his role as the chairman of the influential House Way and Means Committee.

He also is the father of three young children and returns home to Wisconsin on weekends to spend time with them.

Mr Boehner spent many of his weekends raising money for fellow Republican representatives. Mr Ryan said on Tuesday that if elected the role will have to change to accommodate his family life.

To run, Mr Ryan also demanded a House procedure known as "motion to vacate the chair" be abandoned.

The motion allows a small group of lawmakers to challenge the Speaker and is a key source of leverage for the Freedom Caucus.

Mr Boehner resigned in part because of this tactic.

It is unclear whether Republicans will unite behind Mr Ryan. At least one conservative called Mr Ryan's demand to end the "motion to vacate the chair" a "non-starter" and others are still uncertain.

"I think he has to campaign for it. We've heard one speech," Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania said on Tuesday. "We're willing to listen but it's the beginning of the conversation as far as I'm concerned."