House Republicans Tuesday unanimously nominated Paul Ryan to return as House speaker when the new Congress convenes next year.
Ryan, R-Wis., likely will keep the speaker’s gavel as grumbling about his leadership among some Republican lawmakers has lessened, the result of Donald Trump’s unexpected victory, the Senate retaining its GOP majority, and Republicans losing fewer House seats than projected in last Tuesday’s elections.
House Republicans made their choice for speaker during a closed-door session to select their leadership team. The full 435-member House will cast votes for speaker when the new Congress convenes in January.
“Welcome to the dawn of a new, unified Republican government,” Ryan told reporters before the closed-door vote.
However, some Republican lawmakers remain upset that Ryan distanced himself from Trump through most of the campaign and have questions about how he and Trump will mesh politically.
Ryan, who voted for Trump, has praised the president-elect in the days leading to the Nov. 8 elections and since. He has said he’s excited about getting underway with a unified government – a Republican-controlled White House, Senate and House of Representatives.
It’s a departure from October when Ryan vowed not to defend Trump and urged House Republicans to focus on their own races after a 2005 “Access Hollywood” video surfaced, showing Trump bragging about groping women.
“Paul Ryan is the master of his own fate at this point,” said former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele. “He’s going to have a caucus that’s a little bit annoyed, anxious, restless. The expectation is that the speaker get in line with Donald Trump and help him get his agenda through the House and the Senate.”
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said: “Paul Ryan will be speaker unless Donald Trump objects.”
“If Donald Trump supports Paul Ryan or is silent on Paul Ryan, then Paul Ryan is the next speaker of the House,” Brooks said. “If Donald Trump objects to Paul Ryan, then I’m confident that Paul Ryan would lack the votes to be speaker and we would have to consider different options.”
Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., – one of the 40-plus members of the House Freedom Caucus that helped force out former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, last year – said Ryan is in good standing among House Republicans and Trump.
“If the speaker is good enough for Donald Trump, I think he ought to be good enough for the conference,” Sanford said. “I don’t think there will be a short leash. I think it will be the normal tug and fro politics.”