Congressman Paul Ryan was expected to declare soon that he will run for the top job in the U.S. House of Representatives, lawmakers said on Thursday, as Republicans tried to end a crippling internal power struggle.
With a deadline to raise the U.S. debt limit days away, the House has been transfixed by the chaos around finding a successor to replace House Speaker John Boehner, who said last month that he plans to step down on Oct. 30.
Republicans emerged from a meeting with Ryan, a Wisconsin lawmaker who ran for vice president in 2012, saying they expected him throw his hat into the ring.
"He's seeking the speakership, and he feels confident he can unite our conference," said Florida Representative Carlos Curbelo as he left the meeting between Ryan and Republican moderates. "He can heal all these factional differences."
Ryan earlier this week said he was open to replacing Boehner, but only if he could win the unified backing of his divided party colleagues in the House. Republicans are scheduled to vote on nominating a new speaker on Oct. 28, with a vote by the full House on Oct. 29.
On Wednesday Ryan gained the support of two-thirds of a group of hard-line conservatives, known as the Freedom Caucus. Some caucus members were expected to vote for Daniel Webster, another lawmaker seeing the post.
Party infighting over the speakership has overshadowed urgent fiscal issues. If Congress fails to boost the U.S. debt limit by Nov. 3, the Treasury Department has warned the government could default on its debt, which would shake global markets and the economy. The Republican-controlled Congress has offered no clear plan yet to prevent this.
Ryan met on Thursday with the Tuesday Group of 50 or so Republican moderates, all of whom backed him, according to Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania.
"We had a good meeting," Ryan said as he left the gathering.
The Republican Study Committee, another conservative bloc, met with Ryan on Wednesday and was expected to release its decision on his potential bid later on Thursday.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Ryan appeared to be on a path toward becoming the next speaker.
"We'll look forward to welcoming him (Ryan) if that all works out in the next few days. It looks like it will," Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference.
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Jeffrey Benkoe)