Former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that he believes he “had too much power” when he wielded the gavel.
“I think I had too much power as speaker,” Ryan told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead,” adding that what bothered him “most” were omnibus bills – massive spending packages that are put to a single vote rather than individual appropriations measures voted on separately.
“The problem is, no four people should be doing all of that, making those decisions,” Ryan added, referring to House leadership at the time. “I was making decisions on composition of spending bills.”
House Republicans on Monday passed a rules package for the 118th Congress, in what marked the first test of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s ability to navigate his slim GOP majority. In it, McCarthy made a number of concessions in order to gain the support of conservative holdouts, including lowering the threshold needed to trigger a vote to oust a speaker.
Ryan, though, warned against some members potentially looking to take advantage of that concession, recalling advice former House Speaker John Boehner gave him upon winning the gavel in 2015.
“The last thing John Boehner – the last words John Boehner said to me as he walked out of the room of his smoke filled office that I took over – don’t forget your number one job is to preserve the institution, defend the institution,” Ryan said.
“I never really thought most members don’t think about the institution,” he added.
Weighing in on the current state of the Republican Party, Ryan on Thursday joined the chorus of those calling for freshman Republican Rep. George Santos’ resignation after he admitted to lying about parts of his resume. Santos has so far been defiant, pushing back on calls for his resignation, and House GOP leadership has not called on him to do so.
“It’s a fraudulent candidacy – this isn’t an embellished candidacy, it’s a fraudulent candidacy. He hoaxed his voters, so of course he should step down,” Ryan told Tapper.
Asked about his relationship with former President Donald Trump and his recently announced presidential bid, Ryan cast doubt that Trump could win the White House again in 2024.
“He’s fading fast. He’s a proven loser,” Ryan said. “He cost us the House in ’18. He cost us the White House in ‘20. He cost us the Senate again and again, and I think we all know that, and I think we’re moving past Trump.”
“I can’t imagine him getting the [Republican] nomination, frankly,” he added.