WASHINGTON -- Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin is now a step closer to trading the job he has and loves for one he had never sought -- that of speaker of the House.
As members of the Freedom Caucus emerged from their meeting Wednesday evening, they said that Ryan now clearly has at least the 218 votes from the Republican conference he needs to become speaker.
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, the leader of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters after the meeting that "a supermajority of the Freedom Caucus has agreed to support Paul Ryan."
He went on to say, "There was not an agreement on [Ryan's] preconditions, and we are going to continue to work to change what is happening in the House. There is already a process going of reform and we are going to support that process of reform."
Labrador stopped short of saying the caucus would endorse Ryan for speaker.
Ryan's conditions included unifying House Republicans, updating conference rules, and a work-family balance that would mean spending less time traveling than prior speakers so that he would have more time to spend with his family.
The Freedom Caucus released statement of support for Ryan that also said, "We all know that Washington needs to change the way it does business, and we look forward to working with Paul and all our colleagues to enact process reforms that empower individual representatives and restore respect to our institution."
On Tuesday night, Ryan said he would give the major GOP caucuses until Friday to endorse him.
House Republicans are now scheduled to vote by secret ballot for speaker next Wednesday and hold a floor vote next Thursday.
Ryan released his own statement, saying, "I'm grateful for the support of a supermajority of the House Freedom Caucus. I look forward to hearing from the other two caucuses by the end of the week, but I believe this is a positive step toward a unified Republican team."