The House of Representatives finally got new speaker when Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) was officially elected on Thursday afternoon. After negotiating his way to the top, Speaker Ryan can rest easy in his new position.
Well, not really. Even though Ryan was elected to the office of Speaker, he’s got a lot of work to do to unite the GOP.
Ryan tried to ease tensions before the official vote as he sought to secure votes from his party’s less enthusiastic factions. The record of votes indicates that this did not end up being the case. Instead of a unanimous GOP show for Ryan, nine congressmen voted for Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL), who was a constant player in the race for Speaker. In the end, however, a substantial amount of conservatives ended up voting for him, considering he took 236 votes, beating out Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) 184.
It is now his stated goal to continue to unite these factions into a Republican powerhouse. Upon receiving the nomination for Speaker on Wednesday, Ryan said to his fellow Republicans: “Tomorrow, we are turning the page…We are not going to have a House that looks like it’s looked the last few years. . . . Our party lost its vision, and we are going to replace it with a vision.”
Ryan’s statement came moments before the House voted to approve exiting Speaker John Boehner’s budget deal, which will raise federal spending by $80 million and raise the borrowing limit through 2017. Boehner’s bill, which was negotiated with leading Democrats, passed with primarily Democratic votes and Republicans who sought to increase defense spending.
Ryan, who is known for his financial savvy as the chairman of the Ways and Means committee, said that the process that Boehner used “stinks,” but he ultimately endorsed the deal on Thursday. For Ryan personally, this deal will be helpful because it essentially neutralizes most financial concerns for his first two years as Speaker.
But this begs the question: what will Ryan actually do as Speaker?
Practically speaking, Ryan has promised to avoid an immigration overhaul and any emergency solutions. Politically speaking, Matt Lewis at the Daily Caller called him the “most conservative speaker in history.” To support this claim, Lewis argues for Ryan’s “age, communications skills, and well-earned reputation as a policy wonk” and says Ryan “could use this perch [as Speaker] to present conservatism as a proactive philosophy — not just a reaction to Obama’s presidency.”
In stark contrast, Ben Shapiro at the Daily Wire sees Ryan’s conservatism in a different light:
Ryan’s conservative credentials, by contrast, are based on two criteria: his confrontation with President Obama at the White House over Obamacare, and his staunch stands on entitlement reform. Commitment to entitlement reform is important, but it’s also shared by every Republican in the House; opposing Obamacare articulately was wonderful, but Ben Carson did that too, and he’s not Speaker of the House.
Does Paul Ryan stand out? Is he a true conservative, or just another establishment RINO?
We’ll have to wait and see, but I wouldn’t jump on the Speaker Paul Ryan bandwagon just yet. He’s going to have to go a few rounds with the president and the Senate first.