Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan was elected on Thursday to serve as the next speaker of the House — a vote that followed weeks of uncertainty and came on the heels of the House passage of a sweeping two-year bipartisan budget deal.
Ryan called for a renewed effort to make the House function as a great deliberative body again. He underscored the need for a larger vision behind the House’s day-to-day work and called for all members to rise to the occasion.
"The House is broken. We are not solving problems We are adding to them," Ryan said adding that a new way of doing things is in order. "We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate clean."
"Only a truly functioning House can represent the people," Ryan said.
Ryan acknowledged that debate and differences are a necessary part of the legislative process and called for a greater degree of respect in listening to opposing views.
"We have nothing to fear from honest differences honestly stated,” Ryan said. “If you have ideas, let’s hear them. I believe that a greater clarity between us can lead to a greater charity among us.”
He also asked members to put the concerns of working families front and center.
"No more favors for the few. Opportunities for all. That is our motto," Ryan said.
Ryan was officially nominated for Speaker of the House by GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, later administered the oath of office. Ryan's family was seated in the House Chamber in the "Executive Gallery" which is where the First Lady sits during the State of The Union.
Ryan sent his first Tweet as newly-minted House speaker shortly after the vote tally promptly changing his handle to @SpeakerRyan.
Ryan received 236 votes. California Democrat and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi received 184 votes with others netting in the single digits.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, was in the House gallery for Ryan’s swearing in, telling reporters afterwards Ryan is a man with “uncommon intelligence and obvious experience and an ego that's held in check and allows him to reach across to people of differing viewpoints in his own party and in the opposition party.”
Romney even tweeted the first “Speaker Selfie” with Ryan.
Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner also lauded his successor as someone who would serve as an effective speaker.
Boehner had a quick moment in his ceremonial office in the Capitol with Ryan. The two men took a couple of photos and shook hands. Boehner declined to publicly say what advice or words he shared with Ryan.
In a speech in which Boehner poked fun at himself for his trademark weepiness and sentimentality, the outgoing House Speaker said “I leave with no regrets, no burdens.”
Early this month, the House was thrown into chaos after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who was widely expected to succeed Boehner, abruptly dropped out of the race for the job.
Desperate to fill the leadership vacuum, Republicans implored Ryan, the party's 2012 vice presidential nominee and chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, to run for the post instead.
The Wisconsin Republican repeatedly refused, citing his young family and his commitment to his influential job on the House's tax-writing panel. But after a key pledge of support from the conservative House Freedom Caucus, a conservative group that had badgered Boehner and McCarthy, Ryan said last week that he was ready to accept the job.
The election took place less than a day after House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a two-year bipartisan budget deal cut between congressional leadership and the White House. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which extends the nation's debt limit through 2017 and also sets spending levels through September of that year. It also raises the spending caps set in place in 2011 providing for $80 billion in sequester relief.
This bill now needs to make its way through the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to take it up before the November 3rd debt limit deadline next week.