A critical faction of conservative lawmakers voted Wednesday to support Rep. Paul Ryan for House speaker, a move that appears to cement Ryan's status as the one who will replace John Boehner.

The House Freedom Caucus met for nearly two hours before exiting with an announcement that two-thirds of their members voted to support Ryan, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee and was the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee.

Freedom Caucus members said since Ryan did not win the vote of 80 percent of their caucus, they would not officially endorse him, but that he has the votes to win the speaker's gavel.

"If Paul wants to become speaker, he has the votes on the floor to become speaker," Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., said after the meeting.

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