There was a single defection.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) was overwhelmingly re-elected Tuesday to be the speaker for the 115th Congress with Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) the only Republican to vote against him.
The 46-year-old speaker enters the new Congress with Republicans in control of all three branches of government and a real shot at passing an agenda he’s been promoting for years, including corporate and personal tax overhauls and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
But Ryan’s speakership will hardly be unfettered. With President-elect Donald Trump to be sworn in later this month, Ryan will have to compromise on his own agenda and sometimes take a backseat with a President who doesn’t follow traditional Republican orthodoxy. Trump and Ryan don’t share the same positions on free trade nor are they in agreement about a major infrastructure package that could cost a trillion dollars.
Once seen as the GOP’s policy and agenda setter, Ryan will likely now take on a new role as a key implementer or Trump’s agenda.
It’s still unclear exactly what kind of speakership Ryan will carve out in the post-Obama era. With Trump elected, House Freedom Caucus members appear to be less combative than they have been in the past. A blockbuster revelation in the National Review in December revealed that some Freedom Caucus members were considering not requiring spending on the trillion dollar infrastructure bill to be entirely offset with spending cuts elsewhere, which would represent a major break from their seven years of calls for fiscal austerity. Now that Trump is in control, Ryan may see more cooperation and unity in his conference than he has in a long time.