House Republicans have unanimously re-nominated Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as speaker of the House in what was an uncontested election, positioning Ryan to help implement a Republican agenda set by President-elect Donald Trump.
“Welcome to the dawn of a new unified Republican government,” Ryan said on Tuesday morning before the vote.
Ryan ran uncontested Tuesday even though some in the House Freedom Caucus had hoped the election would be delayed. The full House will vote on speaker when the new Congress convenes in January.
Ryan now begins the hard work of governing with a Republican president-elect he disagreed with on the campaign trail, didn’t campaign with and with whom he shares substantial policy differences.
Over the weekend, Trump also announced he was selecting Steve Bannon, who was the honcho of Breitbart News, to be a top White House adviser. Bannon and Breitbart had been especially critical of Ryan and his positions on immigration in the past.
On trade, Trump has pledged to re-examine NAFTA and has balked at the Trans Pacific Partnership. Ryan has pushed hard for free trade. On the campaign trail, Trump made building a wall with Mexico and deportation a key component of his stump speeches. Ryan, meanwhile, has called for Republicans to judiciously take on immigration reform to fix the system with special care not to alienate potential Hispanic voters.
While Ryan has said there are many places he can work with Trump, Ryan’s speakership may be less about promoting the policy proposals he spent decades hammering out and more about implementing the new vision of conservative ideology ushered in by Trump.
There may be some silver lining, however, for Ryan. During the meeting Tuesday morning with the Republican conference, sources inside said Ryan insinuated he had the support of Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Pence is a former House member and is considered an ally to Ryan.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) were also re-elected to their leadership positions Tuesday. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was re-elected chair of the House Republican Conference. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) was selected to be chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of the House GOP.
While there was some unsubstantiated talk that Ryan may face resistance from Republicans in the conservative wing of the party, opposition to Ryan Tuesday was more centered on frustration that the leadership elections were held so closely after the presidential election. Some also complained that Ryan had not articulated his vision for how he would work with Trump during a candidate forum on Monday.