Paul Ryan and John Boehner embrace after Ryan's election Thursday.

Paul Ryan and John Boehner embrace after Ryan's election Thursday. Andrew Harnik/AP

Ryan Is Elected Speaker, Vows to Fix “Broken” House

All but nine Republicans ended up voting for the party’s new leader.

The House elec­ted Rep. Paul Ry­an as speak­er on Thursday, cap­ping weeks of un­cer­tainty about who will lead the cham­ber and the Re­pub­lic­an Party and end­ing the tu­mul­tu­ous rule of Speak­er John Boehner.

In his speech ac­cept­ing the po­s­i­tion, Ry­an con­ceded that the House has been crippled. But he called for a pos­it­ive path for­ward, ask­ing that his col­leagues view his elec­tion as a new day and called on the cham­ber to take on the tough is­sue of the day: Grow­ing the eco­nomy, strength­en­ing mil­it­ary, lift­ing people out of poverty and pay­ing down the na­tion­al debt.

“I nev­er thought I’d be speak­er, but early in my life I wanted to serve this House. I thought this place was ex­hil­ar­at­ing be­cause here you can make a dif­fer­ence,” Ry­an said in his ac­cept­ance speech. “But let’s be frank. The House is broken. We're not solv­ing prob­lems, we are adding to them. But I’m not in­ter­ested in lay­ing blame. We’re not set­tling scores. We are wip­ing the slate clean.”

Ry­an praised Boehner, but amid the Re­pub­lic­an in­fight­ing and Boehner’s sud­den resig­na­tion an­nounce­ment weeks ago, pledged to run the House dif­fer­ently. He said he wants to al­low con­tri­bu­tions from more mem­bers, re­in­vig­or­ate the com­mit­tee pro­cess and end the prac­tice of bring­ing up massive, must-pass bills at the last minute.

“A neg­lected minor­ity will gum up the works. A re­spec­ted minor­ity will work in good faith. In­stead of try­ing to stop the ma­jor­ity, they might try to be­come the ma­jor­ity,” he said.

Still, the vote was not un­an­im­ous, fore­shad­ow­ing the dif­fi­culty Ry­an will have in put­ting to rest the tu­mult that has marked Boehner’s speak­er­ship. Nine mem­bers, mostly mem­bers of the con­ser­vat­ive House Free­dom Caucus, voted for Ry­an’s in­tra­party op­pon­ent, Rep. Daniel Web­ster. Those mem­bers, Reps. Dave Brat, Curt Clawson, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gos­ar, Wal­ter Jones, Thomas Massie, Bill Po­sey, Randy Weber and Ted Yoho, have been skep­tic­al that Ry­an will change the way the House does busi­ness.

Web­ster was re­por­ted to be ur­ging his fol­low­ers to uni­fy be­hind Ry­an. Be­fore the vote, he had sep­ar­ate con­ver­sa­tions with sev­er­al con­ser­vat­ive mem­bers, in­clud­ing Reps. Steve King, Steve Pearce and Yoho. King and Pearce voted for Ry­an, while Yoho backed Web­ster. Web­ster him­self did not vote.

In his speech, however, Ry­an ad­dressed de­tract­ors and said he will try to work in good faith with both Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans.

“The cyn­ics will scoff, they’ll say it’s not pos­sible,” Ry­an said. “You bet­ter be­lieve we will try. We will not duck the tough is­sues, we will take them head on.”

A long­time Con­gres­sion­al staffer who was elec­ted to the House in 1998 at the age of 28, Ry­an rose to be­come chair­man of the Budget and then Ways and Means com­mit­tees. He was the Re­pub­lic­ans’ vice pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee against Pres­id­ent Barack Obama in 2012.

When Boehner an­nounced his resig­na­tion, and his pre­sumed suc­cessor, Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Kev­in Mc­Carthy, dropped out of the race, Ry­an re­luct­antly rose to the call of his col­leagues and an­nounced a bid for the gavel. He se­cured the en­dorse­ments of most of the House GOP’s caucuses, al­though the Free­dom Caucus de­clined to of­fi­cially en­dorse him.

At 45 years old, he is the young­est speak­er since 1869.