Ryan gets prized gavel on taxes

Greg Nash

Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanHouse to vote on NRA-backed gun measure Congress fails on promises to restore regular order and stop funding by crisis The only common ground between Donald Trump and Paul Ryan is an "R" MORE (R-Wis.), the House GOP’s lead budget guru, was selected as the next chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

Ryan was long seen as the favorite to replace the current Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), but he faced a challenge from Rep. Kevin BradyKevin BradyTreasury officials to meet with lawmakers on inversion rules The bipartisan climate solution: a tax swap Republican chairman: Our tax reform plan fits with Trump's vision MORE (R-Texas) for the Ways and Means gavel.

Brady, who has more seniority than Ryan on the committee, told reporters on Tuesday that he withdrew before the GOP Steering Committee made its decision.

Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, has finally gotten a hold of a gavel he’s long sought and will head a committee that has jurisdiction over items — like the tax code, Medicare and Medicaid — that the Wisconsin Republican has overhauled in his budget blueprints.

Ryan told reporters on Tuesday that Camp “did a great job of raising the bar of what a successful Ways and Means chair looks like” and that he wanted to “utilize the strength of all our committee members.”

In a separate statement, Ryan said that the Ways and Means panel would be front-and-center as Republicans try to jumpstart an anemic recovery that has left many voters uneasy about the economy.

“We will work together to fix the tax code, hold the IRS accountable, strengthen Medicare and Social Security, repair the safety net, promote job-creating trade agreements, and determine how best to repeal and replace ObamaCare with patient-centered solutions,” Ryan said.

Ryan also brushed aside questions Tuesday about whether he’d run for president in 2016.

“One thing at a time. One step at a time. I’ll deal with that later,” said Ryan, who has said in the past he’d make a decision about a White House run next year.

Under new House GOP rules, Ryan would have to give up the Ways and Means gavel if he ran for higher office.

Even Ryan, who has broad support throughout the GOP conference, will face a tough challenge in moving fiscal policies forward in a gridlocked Washington.

Top officials in both parties have said they want to revamp the U.S. tax code, but few lawmakers embraced a draft circulated by Camp earlier this year.

Republicans have said they hope that President Obama — who has floated some changes to entitlement programs in the past — would work with them on some of those areas. But the GOP has also balked in the past at Obama’s offer to exchange spending cuts for fresh tax revenues, and top Republican lawmakers are skeptical that the president will be as willing to deal as former President Clinton was after Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994.

Brady congratulated Ryan on his victory Tuesday, and offered to support “as he seeks to fix America’s broken tax code, save Social Security and Medicare, and confront the many challenges facing our nation.”

Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the top Democrat on the committee, also said he was looking forward to working with Ryan.

“I have admired his determination, his interest in a broad range of issues, and the humor with which he has approached his intensive work in Congress,” Levin said. “With our offices next door to one another, we don't have far to go as we strive to honor the esteemed history of the Committee and serve the best interests of the American people.”