Washington | Speaker Paul Ryan unanimously won his GOP colleagues’ votes on Wednesday for another term at the helm of the House. He told fellow Republicans he had President-elect Donald Trump’s support, and heralded “the dawn of a new, unified Republican government.”
“It feels really good to say that actually,” Ryan told reporters. “This will be a government focused on turning President-elect Trump’s victory into real progress for the American people.”
While victory was the GOP unifier, Democrats were verging on disarray. House Democrats abruptly announced on Wednesday that they were delaying their own leadership elections set for Thursday until November 30 to give lawmakers more time to process disastrous election results.
It’s not clear whether the election delay might morph into a real challenge to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. She has led House Democrats for more than 12 years and has consolidated support with strong fundraising and an ability to deliver votes, but there’s long been grumbling from Democrats who say new leadership is needed at the top.
As for Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican still has to win a floor vote for speaker in January, when all members of the House will cast ballots, including Democrats.
But he secured the nomination at a closed-door GOP conference vote today afternoon with the strong backing of his fellow House Republicans, even though a few conservative dissenters pushed unsuccessfully to delay the balloting.
Those grumblings of dissent could hardly be heard over the buzz of enthusiasm as House Republicans convened for their first regular conference meeting since Trump won the presidential election. Even though a number of House Republicans, including Ryan, had opposed Trump or were critical along the way, most said they’re now firmly on board and prepared to try to enact Trump’s agenda on immigration, infrastructure, energy and jobs.
Republicans also backed California’s Kevin McCarthy for majority leader and Steve Scalise of Louisiana for the No. 3 job of House whip.
Lawmakers trooped out of their morning meeting in the basement of the Capitol smiling, pledging quick action to roll back President Barack Obama’s accomplishments and clutching red “Make America Great Again” hats.
“That was a nice fun touch. Now here’s my problem: Every member wants it autographed,” said GOP Rep. Chris Collins of New York, one of Trump’s earliest congressional backers, who has been tapped as congressional liaison to the transition team. “I’m going to have to say, ‘President-elect Trump, bring out your Sharpie, we’ve got to do a lot of autographing.’”
During the meeting, Ryan told colleagues that he’d spoken today morning with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who said that he and Trump “are very supportive of the leadership team and are looking forward to working with them,” said Rep.
Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.