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Republicans Nominate Paul Ryan as House Speaker

Ryan is expected to be formally elected as the Speaker of the House in the full House on Thursday.
Image: Rep. Ryan leaves a meeting with moderate members of the House Republican caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (C) leaves a meeting about his bid to be the next Speaker of the House with moderate members of the House Republican caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington October 22, 2015. JOSHUA ROBERTS / Reuters

After weeks of uncertainty, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan has been officially nominated by his party to serve as the next Speaker of the House.

Two hundred of the House's 247 Republicans backed Paul's bid in the secret-ballot vote. His only announced rival, Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida, received 43 votes.

"This begins a new day in the House of Representatives," Ryan told reporters after the vote.

"Our party has lost its vision, and we are going to replace it with a vision," he said. "We believe that the country's on the wrong track. We think the country's heading in the wrong direction, and we have an obligation here in the People's House to do the people's business and to give this country a better way forward."

In a closed-door meeting Wednesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy nominated Ryan, with Reps. Jeb Hensarling and Kristi Noem seconding the nomination.

The full election for Speaker of the House will take place in the full House on Thursday, when members of both parties will vote publicly to award the gavel.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Ryan said he was "very excited" to have the support of his colleagues and that he feels "fantastic" about tomorrow's full vote.

Asked if he was confident that he will get to 218 votes in the House, he replied: "Oh, yeah."

Ryan needs 218 votes to secure the speakership on Thursday. Many of the Republicans who opposed him in the closed-door vote Wednesday are expected to switch their support to back their party's nominee, although it's not clear yet how many members will do so.

Early this month, the House was thrown into chaos after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who was widely expected to succeed outgoing House Speaker John Boehner, abruptly dropped out of the race for the job.

"If we are going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to help do that,” McCarthy said, explaining his sudden decision to exit the election on October 8.

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.

Ryan’s nomination comes just hours before the House is set to vote on a sweeping two-year budget deal that would largely neutralize the flashpoints that dogged Boehner throughout his tenure. The agreement would defer any threat of a government shutdown or a debt default until after the 2016 election.

Ryan has criticized the “closed-door” talks that led to the bipartisan deal, even though observers have pointed out the agreement’s similarities with a budget agreement Ryan helped negotiate in 2013.

But Ryan also said Wednesday that he will vote for the agreement despite his concerns. “There is no doubt that a better process would have produced a better result. If I’m elected Speaker, we will begin a conversation about how to approach these big issues – as a team – long before we reach these kinds of deadlines,” he said in a statement, adding “What has been produced will go a long way toward relieving the uncertainty hanging over us, and that’s why I intend to support it.”