US House of Representatives elects Paul Ryan as speaker

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Republican Paul Ryan was sworn in as speaker of the US House of Representatives Thursday, ending weeks of turmoil within the majority Republican Party.

The 435-member lower chamber of Congress approved Ryan as leader of the body with 236 votes, a day after the Republican caucus lent him its support to replace outgoing speaker John Boehner.

The Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012, Ryan had reluctantly become the focus of efforts to replace Boehner, who is quitting the speakership after years of infighting with right-wing members of his own party.

“To me, the House represents what’s best in America, the boundless opportunity to do good,” Ryan said. “But let’s be frank, the House is broken. We’re not solving problems we’re adding to them.”

Ryan vowed to “wipe the slate clean” after years of partisan infighting and return the chamber to a more deliberative way of passing legislation.

“Only a truly functioning House can truly represent the people,” he said.

Nancy Pelosi, leader of the minority Democrats, received 184 votes, conservative Republican challenger Daniel Webster received 9 votes and a handful of others each received one vote each.

Ryan, 45, becomes the 62nd House speaker and its youngest since 1869. He represents a rural district in the Midwestern state of Wisconsin and has chaired the House’s tax-writing panel since January. He previously led the budget committee.

After insisting since last month that he preferred to continue in his tax-writing post, Ryan pivoted last week, saying he would be “glad to serve” as speaker if House Republicans – including the restive right-wing – united behind him.

Conservative opposition Republicans, who have held a majority in the House since January 2011, currently have 247 members in the 435-seat chamber.

Kevin McCarthy, Boehner’s deputy, shocked members by withdrawing his speaker candidacy earlier this month after failing to secure the support of the most conservative faction of the Republican caucus.

Lawmakers urged Ryan to accept the post after the announcement of Boehner’s departure, and because McCarthy’s move added to uncertainty in Congress in the midst of crucial decisions on the delayed 2016 budget.

The House approved the budget agreement hammered out by Boehner late Wednesday, removing a potential obstacle for Ryan.

Boehner led the voting for Ryan and exited to applause from his colleagues after leading the chamber since Republicans gained control in 2010.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate who chose Ryan as his running mate, was among those in the chamber to witness the Wisconsin representative being chosen for the post.

On Wednesday, the Republicans in the House lent their support to Ryan in a closed door meeting. Conservative Webster had managed to snag 43 votes, illustrating the challenge Ryan will face in uniting an often divided party.

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