After a contentious week spent rallying support from all corners of his party in the House of Representatives, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) finally became Speaker on October 29. The vote was not without incident, with House Democrats largely voting in support of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a small number of conservative Republicans voting for Congressman Dan Webster (R-FL), and even former Secretary of State Colin Powell receiving one vote.
Outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) went to great lengths to deliver a clean slate for Ryan in the days leading up to the vote. Boehner worked to secure a two-year budget agreement and an extension of the debt ceiling, therefore removing them from the list of issues Ryan will inherit.
Ryan is now settling into his new accommodations in the Capitol building and is starting to clear out the cigarette smoke synonymous with Boehner for years. He has promised to return the House to regular order, empower committees to legislate on their areas of jurisdiction and clarify the vision Republicans have for the country.
What impact Ryan’s Speakership will have on the prospects for comprehensive tax reform and other issues remains unclear. But he has already signaled that immigration reform is off the table for the duration of the Obama presidency. This suggests that partisanship will remain, at least for now, in the lower chamber. In recent days, some have also suggested that he may lead a transformative rewrite of the tax code.