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Reed, Collins back Ryan as next House speaker

When Rep. Paul Ryan’s self-imposed deadline for approval as the next speaker of the House of Representatives arrives on Friday, he can count on both Western New York Republicans for support.

Reps. Tom Reed of Corning and Chris Collins of Clarence said Wednesday they will enthusiastically back their colleague from Wisconsin as House leader, despite the fractures still plaguing their Republican conference. While both acknowledge that House GOP members remain pledged to philosophies off the various caucuses that drove Speaker John A. Boehner to announced his resignation, they believe Ryan is emerging as the man to unite them.

“Paul has repeatedly shown his commitment to unifying our party, the House of Representatives and our nation, with a rare courage for leadership,” said Reed, who has served on the Ways and Means Committee that Ryan leads. “I’m encouraged by the recent announcement that he will dutifully consider running for the position and am hopeful that we will see a positive outcome from our conference in the near future.”

Collins was even more forthright in looking toward Ryan – the GOP’s 2012 nominee for vice president – as a unifier. He pointed to various factions comprised of moderate, conservative and ultra-conservative Republicans that created an “impossible” governing situation for Boehner. Under the right conditions, he said, Ryan will be able to govern.

“He got a standing ovation from our conference when he spoke to us about unity and his message about what we stand for, not what we stand against,” Collins said. “He can do that only with the support of the various caucuses within our caucus.”

The congressman explained he belongs to two key caucuses – the Republican Study Group and the Tuesday Group – which espouse fiscal conservatism but remain more flexible on social issues. The groups differ from the Freedom Caucus, he said, that is often viewed as a tea party organization and has gained significant power in the House over recent years.

Now Collins says he supports stipulations that Ryan has demanded to assume the speakership, including eliminating rules that could “vacate” the speaker’s chair at any time.

“No speaker should ever have that hanging over his head,” Collins said.

The congressman said he remains “optimistic” that Ryan will unify the various Republican factions by Friday, but also acknowledged that nothing is certain.

“If it isn’t Paul Ryan, I don’t see another candidate,” Collins said, adding the only alternative would be for Boehner to temporarily remain in the post.