By CLAIRE FOX
For The News-Letter
Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) was elected Speaker of the House Thursday, beating out former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL).
Ryan was chosen as the Republican candidate for Speaker by House Republicans on Wednesday, though Webster remained a candidate in Thursday’s election.
Ryan succeeds John Boehner (R-OH), who announced Sept. 25 that he would be stepping down, citing turmoil among House Republicans over the past few months as the main reason behind his decision.
Urged on by many Republicans, Ryan declared on Oct. 20 that he would run for Speaker but only if he received support from all major party caucuses, particularly the right wing House Freedom Caucus. Despite not receiving an official endorsement, Ryan accepted the overall majority decision.
Senior Nitin Nainani, president of the College Republicans, thinks Ryan was the best option for the position.
“If Paul Ryan does end up being the next Speaker, it is overall a net gain for the Republicans. He’s one figure who could unite the caucus for the most part,” Nainani said. “A lot of the members of the caucus simply felt like they weren’t being heard under John Boehner as Speaker.”
Ryan had previously refused to run for Speaker. A few weeks prior to his official announcement, Ryan stated in a press conference that he viewed himself more as a “policy guy” and would not be right for the position.
After receiving support from his peers, including Boehner, and after contemplating the position for a week, Ryan wrote in a letter to his colleagues that he would run because he thought that his party needed him.
Even though Ryan did not initially want the job and would have preferred to stay as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Nainani believes the representative’s experience as a policy-focused congressman is actually a positive factor. He explained that having clear initiatives helps Ryan’s image.
“Many people simply did not think Boehner had a vision for the caucus; he very much so went on a day-to-day basis to deal with the next press cycles. So when Paul Ryan says that he’s a ‘policy guy’ I think it’s actually a plus for this position,” Nainani said. “He has the conservative vision that Boehner didn’t necessarily have looking forward. He has long-term goals that he wants to achieve.”
Not only is Ryan a potential source of stability for Republicans, but he also might serve as a more viable collaborator for Democrats to work with in the future, according to junior Cynthia Hadler, secretary of the College Democrats.
“I think Ryan as Speaker would work well with Democrats because his voting record is actually more moderate than what is portrayed and I believe he could work across the aisle to make sensible policies,” wrote Hadler in an email to The News-Letter. “One of his biggest strengths is budget policy.”
Nainani agreed that some Democrats might be more satisfied with Ryan as Speaker in comparison with other Republicans, given his history of working out compromises with House Democrats.
“Several prominent Democrats — Mark Warner (D-VA), Harry Reid (D-NV), Patty Murray (D-WA) — who worked with Ryan last year on budget agreements expressed support for Ryan as Speaker,” he said. “He’s shown he can work with Democrats on major legislation, and I think that’s very important.”
Congress will now be looking to Ryan to ease tensions in the Republican caucus and be a new source of leadership as Speaker. Nainani says that the Wisconsin representative is ready.
“Just in the way he earned the support of the Freedom Caucus, talked to them about their concerns and gave them more inclusive leadership than they’ve had in years, I think he’s someone that people are comfortable with,” he said. “With the need for new blood, a new person in charge, Paul Ryan is the right guy to do it.”