WASHINGTON DC, USA (UPDATED) – US lawmakers on Thursday, October 29, elected Paul Ryan, a conservative Republican who helped steer budget and tax policy in Congress, as speaker of the House of Representatives, seeking to end months of political disarray.
Ryan, 45, now holds the most powerful job in Congress and is second in line to the presidency after the vice president, should the commander-in-chief be impeached or otherwise vacate the Oval Office.
The nine-term congressman from Wisconsin quickly called on Republicans and Democrats to work together to return the House to "regular order."
"Let's be frank. The House is broken. We're not solving problems; we're adding to them. And I am not interested in laying blame. We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate clean," Ryan told fellow lawmakers after winning the vote.
"Neither the members nor the people are satisfied with how things are going. We need to make some changes," he said, noting that a "respected minority" -- referring to Democrats -- would "work in good faith."
Ryan -- who had said he would take the job only if divided Republican factions would unify behind him -- earned 236 votes in the 435-member chamber.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi received 184 votes, while Daniel Webster, the rebellious conservative who launched a long-shot bid for speaker last month, received nine votes.
Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, received one vote, as did congressmen John Lewis and Jim Cooper.
Ryan received an extended ovation and cheers from lawmakers and invited guests, including 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who chose Ryan to be his running mate.
Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader, then handed him the speaker's gavel to cheers.
"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."
He replaces John Boehner, who wielded the speaker's gavel for nearly five turbulent years and announced last month that he would be stepping down by Friday.
Boehner, who hails from Ohio, resigned under pressure from rebellious conservatives in the party, revealing a deep rift between those lawmakers and the more establishment Republicans in the House.
But before leaving, he secretly negotiated a sweeping, two-year budget deal with the White House that, if it passes Congress, would clear the decks of any major fiscal crises for the new speaker.
"I leave with no regrets. No burdens," said an emotional Boehner.
Pelosi hailed Boehner as the "personification of the American dream," adding: "Although we had our differences, and often, I always respected his dedication to this House and his commitment to his values."
Ryan, who took the oath of office before a packed chamber, had served as the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee for the past year.
His supporters in Congress said they expect he will want to embark on major conservative programs as Republicans and Democrats gear up for the 2016 presidential election.
Ryan had been deeply hesitant to take the gavel.
But after number two Republican Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the speaker's race, lawmakers including party leaders heaped pressure on Ryan to take the job, arguing he was the best man to unify the divided Republican camp. – Michael Mathes, AFP/Rappler.com