Steve Bannon reportedly sics House Freedom Caucus on Paul Ryan

After reportedly meeting with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, leaders of the Freedom Caucus went to House Speaker Paul Ryan to express their frustrations with his leadership, or lack thereof.

Bannon, who returned to Breitbart News as executive chairman after leaving the White House last month, has been meeting with hard-line GOP lawmakers to come up with ways to pressure Republican Congressional leaders, according to The Washington Post.

To that end,  Reps. Mark Meadow of North Carolina, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Ohio’s Jim Jordan (R-OH) — met with Ryan Wednesday to let him know they were not satisfied with the way he has been handling the party’s legislative agenda. Meadows, the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, has been a friend of Bannon for years.

According to the Post:

While the trio personally like Ryan, who remains popular throughout the House, one of the people familiar with the discussion said the three members were “frank” about their mounting concerns and warned Ryan that they and others in the House Republican conference could desert him in the coming months if the leadership fails to enact conservative policies.

Several people close to Bannon and Meadows said on Wednesday that the two men, who met on Monday on Capitol Hill, have begun to discuss who could replace Ryan as speaker, should conservatives rebel against him. But they stressed that those discussions remain speculative and informal, with no plan yet for action.

Former speaker John Boehner stepped down months after an effort led by Meadows in 2015 to unseat him.

Ryan’s spokeswoman downplayed his meeting with Freedom Caucus leaders.

“Every single day the speaker talks to members about their concerns, ideas, and anything else they’d like to discuss,” Ashlee Strong said in a statement, according to the Post. “Being accessible to members is part of the job and one he makes a priority.”

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Other Ryan allies pointed to the meeting as an example of how the House Speaker listens and engages with even his critics.

“Those guys are always unhappy. God bless Paul for sitting there and listening to them,” one Republican lawmaker said.

One conservative lawmaker, however, told the Post that Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were the “biggest impediments to enacting President Trump’s agenda.”

“If things don’t change — and fast — the American people will demand new leadership in Congress,” the lawmaker said.

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