House Speaker Paul Ryan doesn't approve of Rep. Steve Stivers' truce with anti-establishment firebrand Steve Bannon and was not consulted beforehand, Republican sources tell the Washington Examiner.
Stivers, the Ohio congressman who is leading the House GOP's 2018 campaign operation, forged a deal with Bannon that will cede certain open-seat nominating contests to Bannon in exchange for the Breitbart News chairman not fielding populist primary challengers against incumbent House Republicans.
But Republican sources confirmed on Friday that Ryan's political team was frustrated by the truce between Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and Bannon, President Trump's former chief strategist — and that the speaker was unlikely to approve.
"Speaker Ryan's team was not consulted about the meeting and were surprised that it occurred without their knowledge," a GOP source said. News of the peace agreement was first reported by Politico.
It's unusual that Ryan would not be consulted. Although Stivers heads the NRCC, Ryan is the party's top House official and has been responsible for raising half of the money that has flowed into the committee. A source close to Stivers confirmed that the NRCC chairman acted independently. "He did this on his own to establish a relationship."
Bannon's insurgency against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is causing some GOP insiders to look askance at the Stivers-Bannon truce, first reported by Politico. He is recruiting candidates to challenge McConnell's allies in 2018 Senate primaries, with the goal of ousting the Kentuckian from the majority leader post, and some wondered if Ryan was willing to isolate McConnell to protect his flank.
The GOP source made clear that this was not the case, and that Ryan, who for years also has been on Bannon's target list, wasn't interested in being a tacit partner in that effort.
"They are close with McConnell's team," this individual said, of "Team Ryan" and "McConnell World."
Divisions between Ryan and McConnell could be unhelpful as House and Senate Republicans enter the next stage of delicate negotiations over tax reform, an effort crucial to the party's midterm campaign to retain their majorities in Congress.