One thing is not in dispute: Paul Ryan will not be House speaker next year. In fact, he won't even be in Congress now that he's not running for re-election. But new reports are raising the question of whether Ryan will even be allowed to finish his current term as speaker. Politico, for example, reports that last week's defeat of a farm bill championed by Ryan has many House Republicans wondering if it makes sense to have a lame-duck speaker in place. “The conference is in open warfare," a senior GOP lawmaker who requested anonymity says. "Paul has run out of juice. It became clear on Friday that it’s time to let go.” Ryan is expected to suffer another setback this week on immigration when GOP moderates join a bipartisan push to protect Dreamers.
The White House is reportedly concerned as well. The Weekly Standard reports that budget director Mick Mulvaney has spoken to Ryan deputy Kevin McCarthy about the possibility of stepping in. "I've talked with Kevin about this privately but not as much publicly," Mulvaney is quoted as saying. The Washington Post sees this as a "remarkable admission" given that a Cabinet member seems to be floating the idea of replacing a House speaker in the president's own party. McCarthy, for his part, adamantly denies talking to Mulvaney about replacing Ryan and says no scheme is afoot. "No, there is no plan and Mick has not talked to me about coming up with a plan," he said, per CNN. "Paul is here until the end of the election." (Read more Paul Ryan stories.)