Rep. Paul Ryan will have to step down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee if he decides to run for president, thanks to a new rule passed by House Republicans.
The conference convened Friday morning to vote on rules for the 114th Congress. Among the new rules adopted is one mandating that any committee or subcommittee chairman who announces a bid for another office must cede the gavel to the next-highest-ranking member on the panel until the Steering Committee selects a new chairman.
Ryan is Republicans' presumed choice to head the tax-writing panel, but the former vice presidential candidate is also frequently mentioned as a contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. The rule would also apply to members who run for mayor, governor, senator, or any other office.
Sources in the GOP meeting said Rep. Tom Cole proposed the rule in response to cardinals on the Appropriations Committee having run for the Senate. Rep. Jack Kingston, a subcommittee chairman, unsuccessfully ran a Senate campaign this year in Georgia, while ex-Rep. Denny Rehberg ran a losing campaign in the cycle before that.
Republicans also approved a rule that would allow the House to bestow more Congressional Gold Medals. Previously, the House could award only two per year.
In addition, Republicans resoundingly voted to keep their ban on earmarks in place. Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama fielded a rules amendment that would have allowed an exception to the earmark moratorium for funding requests related to states, localities, public utilities, or other public entities. It was defeated by roughly 2-to-1, according to sources in the room.