Paul Ryan Backing Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker

Representative Kevin McCarthy, Vice President Mike Pence to Hold Joint Fundraiser in California

House Speaker Paul Ryan told NBC's "Meet the Press" that he wants to see House Majority Kevin McCarthy take over as House speaker.

Majority Whip Steve Scalise has publicly indicated he won't directly challenge McCarthy if the California Republican declares his candidacy for speaker, but so far McCarthy is only saying there isn't a race for Speaker yet.

"Let's get aggressive", Mr Jordan told reporters just hours after Mr Ryan said on Wednesday that he would quit congress at the end of 2018, setting up an internal struggle to replace him. His endorsement of McCarthy may help head off a battle between his subordinates over the top post.

Representative Jim Jordan, a co-founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, whose members have at times clashed with Ryan and other Republican leaders, said he is also open to pursuing the role of speaker.

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Mr McCarthy, the House majority leader, talked up the provocative spending cuts on Thursday. Other potential candidates for Speaker include Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), who was shot at a congressional baseball practice previous year, and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who heads the Freedom Caucus.

Neither McCarthy nor Scalise has announced he will run for speaker.

In the current House, which has 237 Republicans, the Freedom caucus sways enough votes to keep any candidate from getting a majority vote needed to ascend to House Speaker should Ryan step down before his term is up in January. He and McCarthy are expected to wage a furious effort to raise campaign funds for fellow House Republicans to shore up support for their potential leadership aspirations. When former House Speaker John Boehner resigned, all eyes were on the California Republican. That may be good news for McCarthy because he is close to Trump - as is House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows, a conservative from North Carolina.

"Steve is the more low-key guy, Kevin is more the big handshake, but they're equally popular", said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. He was the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in 2012.

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