WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Ryan has officially been elected as the 54th Speaker of the House after he got the votes of 236 members by the full House of Representatives.
The vote was largely a formality after House Republicans nominated him for the position on Wednesday.
But even some conservatives who did not support Ryan said that after weeks of infighting, they were eager to move on and give Ryan the space to unite the party’s various factions and craft a legislative agenda.
Boehner gave a farewell address before the vote on Thursday, a day after the House approved a significant budget deal he negotiated with President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. The legislation, which eliminates the possibility of a default and decreases the chance of a government shutdown, effectively gives Ryan a fresh start.
Now that the House officially taps him as speaker, Ryan is expected to praise Boehner and urge members from both sides to “put past behind them and begin the process of healing,” according to a Ryan aide.
Ryan began turning the page on Wednesday, telling reporters after his party’s internal vote that, “we are not going to have a House that looks like it’s looked the last two years. We are going to move forward. We are going to unify. Our party has lost its vision, and we are going to replace it with a vision.”
The 45-year-old Wisconsin Republican first worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide in 1992 and won his House seat in 1998 when he was 28.
He became known as a policy wonk and attracted national attention for his sweeping proposals to overhaul Medicare and restructure the tax code. In 2012, Mitt Romney picked Ryan to be his running mate on the GOP ticket. After Republicans lost that election, he returned to the House and ruled out running for president in 2016, instead settling into what he called his “dream job” as chairman of the House tax writing committee.
With the speaker’s title, Ryan takes on a national profile and the difficult challenge of corralling what has been an unruly and divided House GOP conference.
According to an aide familiar with his plans, in his first speech as speaker, Ryan’s message to his colleagues will be, “We have nothing to fear from honest differences honestly stated. If you have ideas, let’s hear them. A greater clarity between us can lead to a greater charity among us.”