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Paul Ryan elected Speaker of the House

 

Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district was elected the 54th Speaker of the House on Thursday, Oct. 29, taking over the position from John Boehner. Ryan, 45, is the youngest speaker of the House since 1869, when James G. Blaine took over the role at the age of 39.

In a speech after his election, Ryan addressed the culture of the House, which had led to Boehner’s ouster from the position. “Let’s be frank: The House is broken,” Ryan said. “We are not settling scores,” he added. “We are wiping the slate clean.”

Ryan’s election is the result of a leadership struggle amongst the Republican Party, who not only forced Boehner to announce his resignation toward the end of September, but also blocked Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the favorite at the time to replace Boehner, from attempting to take the position.

Ryan, who prefers to sleep on a cot in his office rather than abscond to a Washington apartment when the work day is done, will be trying to initiate a culture change within the notoriously hostile House environment.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, gave a statement that made it clear that building a bipartisan effort will be difficult. “Make no mistake,” Reid said, “my Democratic colleagues and I will continue to have deep policy differences with Speaker Ryan on the vast majority of issues.”

Beyond dealing with the Democrats, Ryan will also have to handle the strife that has swept his own party. The Republicans, who control a majority of 247 seats in the House, have found themselves increasingly divided over political tactics and, to some extent, ideology, as certain members of the party have publicly relished in the dysfunction that has taken ahold of Washington politics.

Boehner, in his final remarks to the House, held a box of tissues above his head, in reference to his much-publicized penchant for crying on the floor of the chamber. The move elicited uproarious laughter and a round of applause. “I leave with no regrets, no burdens,” he said. “If anything, I leave the way I started: just a regular guy, humbled by the chance to do a big job.”

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