WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan had a good run in his first few weeks on the job, clearing out several high-profile bills in a year-end rush.

The good times may not last.

Ryan is already lowering expectations of major legislative achievements in 2016, saying he wants to focus on spelling out a conservative agenda. Far-right Republicans say they want more – and that they’ll push Ryan for votes on their top priorities, such as making significant tax changes, reining in entitlement programs and enacting a new health-care law.

That tension – between Ryan’s push to set out broad principles and the House Freedom Caucus’ impatience to force higher-profile confrontations – could intensify this week as House Republicans go to Baltimore to sort out their legislative agenda.

If the three dozen members of the conservative Freedom Caucus don’t like the outcome, they say they are prepared to push Ryan just as hard as they pushed Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner, who eventually quit the job.

“I don’t think you’re going to see Freedom Caucus members just roll over and play dead,” caucus member Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona said Tuesday in an interview.

The Republican policy retreat is scheduled to last through Friday. Republican senators will be also on hand through Thursday.

Ahead of that meeting, conservatives were trying to set a new, firmer tone.

“I think that there was a lot of patience in the last six weeks because people realized that it wasn’t a table he set that we were eating from,” Salmon said, referring to Ryan.

Salmon said the Wisconsin Republican was given what amounts to a pass by conservatives in his first weeks after becoming speaker on Oct. 29 because he was handling Boehner’s legislative leftovers. That included passage of a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill in December with mostly Democratic votes.

“That’s gone, starting this year,” said Salmon of such patience with Ryan.

Another Freedom Caucus member, Raul Labrador of Idaho, raised eyebrows last week when he declared “the honeymoon is over” for Ryan as the House speaker.

On Tuesday, Labrador added in an interview that he wants to see actual legislation put up for House votes this year, ticking off such aims as entitlement reform and a tax overhaul.

But Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, so far has stopped short of specific promises.


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