GOP votes to keep Ryan as Speaker
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

 

What a difference a week makes.

Exuberant Republicans on Tuesday rallied behind Paul Ryan, nominating the Wisconsin lawmaker to serve as Speaker of the House for the next two years as they make plans for a unified GOP government in 2017.

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Ryan ran unopposed for the top leadership post and was nominated in a unanimous voice vote during a closed-door meeting in the Longworth Building.

Ryan’s top lieutenants — Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Policy Chairman Luke Messer (R-Ind.) — all were unanimously reelected to their leadership posts.

In one of the two contested races, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) defeated Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) in a 143-96 vote to become the next chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Stivers will lead the House GOP's campaign efforts in the 2018 cycle.

In the race for GOP conference vice chairman, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) upset Rep. Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresOvernight Energy: GOP lawmaker parodies Green New Deal in new bill | House Republicans accuse Dems of ramming through climate bill | Park Service chief grilled over shutdown House Republicans accuse Dems of ramming through climate bill Seven Republicans vote against naming post office after ex-Rep. Louise Slaughter MORE (R-Texas), the outgoing chairman of the 178-member conservative Republican Study Committee. Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) was uncontested in his race for GOP conference secretary.

It now appears Ryan will cruise to reelection as Speaker on Jan. 3, when all members of the House of Representatives cast their vote in a public roll call. Ryan needs a simple majority, or roughly 218 votes, to win his first full, two-year term as Speaker, a job he’s repeatedly said he never wanted or sought out.

As recently as a week ago, some rank-and-file Republicans were privately musing that Ryan’s future was in jeopardy after he waffled on backing GOP nominee Donald Trump during the campaign. There was talk Trump and his loyalists could seek retribution against Ryan if Republicans narrowly lost the White House.

But Trump won convincingly, and Ryan credited the New York billionaire for helping both the House and Senate preserve their GOP majorities. Both GOP leaders have turned their attention to the new administration and what it will accomplish in its first 100 days.

In Tuesday morning’s closed door conference meeting, Ryan told his colleagues that he had just spoken to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who relayed a message that the Trump-Pence team is supportive of the House leadership team.

“I talk with Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE virtually every single day. I spoke with Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePhiladelphia mayor: Trump would 'go to hell' if he had to go back to where he came from Google official denies allegations of ties to China Trump says migrant detention centers are 'not concentration camps' MORE this morning. We are the same page, we're working hand in glove and we're going to make sure that this is a very successful administration,” Ryan told reporters after the conference meeting.

“But more importantly, we're going to make sure that the voices we heard from this election from the American people are acted upon, that we actually fix these country's problems.”

However, not all Republicans are signaling support for Ryan. Conservative Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and Dave Brat (R-Va.) have raised concerns about Ryan. And a handful of lawmakers, including Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Reps. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), stood up in the Tuesday morning meeting and urged Ryan’s team to delay leadership elections.

But that request was ignored and Ryan pressed on. The bulk of the GOP conference is sticking with Ryan, and so is Trump.

Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOcasio-Cortez top aide emerges as lightning rod amid Democratic feud Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump MORE’s future is as bright as ever. There will be no opposition today,” said Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), the first member of Congress to endorse Trump for president and the new congressional liaison to Trump’s transition team. “I’m seconding Paul Ryan’s nomination today as a sign of Trump’s support for Mr. Ryan.

“This is a team effort, the administration has their agenda but they need legislation.”

In a show of unity, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), a member of the centrist Tuesday Group, also nominated Ryan.

“This leadership has had the wisdom to listen, now we have the courage to lead,” McCarthy said after the leadership elections, flanked by members of the new leadership team. “You'll see a new Congress, with a new approach, and one that starts getting the work done on the very first day.”

The composition of Ryan's team for the 115th Congress is slightly different than his last one. McMorris Rodgers is now the sole woman on the team after both Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) and Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann Foxx58 GOP lawmakers vote against disaster aid bill The GOP's commitment to electing talented women can help party retake the House When disaster relief hurts MORE (R-N.C.) decided not to run for reelection to leadership.

This story was updated at 4:41 p.m.