WASHINGTON — Paul Ryan was easily re-elected Speaker of the House of the 115th Congress, following a vote in the chamber Tuesday.
Only one Republican member defected — Kentucky Republican Rep. Tom Massie, who is a frequent critic of the speaker, voted for Rep. Daniel Webster.
On the Democratic side, Nancy Pelosi was re-elected Minority Leader with only four of her colleagues voting for someone else for the top the Democratic post, following a year that saw both parties questioning their congressional leadership.
Ryan was re-elected by the House Republican conference in November to serve a second term as speaker of the House. And after a tumultuous first year in the top leadership spot — a job he was elected to after then-Speaker John Boehner abruptly resigned — Ryan clashed with both conservatives on the right of the conference and with then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
But a lot has changed since then. Trump’s 2016 election win helped unite the Republican Party while Democrats are still trying to figure what went wrong.
Ryan acknowledged the “intense” times from the past year in his initial remarks to the chamber immediately following his re-election vote.
“Just months ago our country held a great electoral contest. And at times it was a little intense. As you all know, when you’re in the heat of it, in the heat of the kind of campaign we had, you start to wonder, will the tempers ever cool? Will the systems still hold? Does our still rich tradition still have that magic? Well, as it turns out, it does,” Ryan said in his address. “In the end, they all dissolve in the silence and peaceful transfer of power.”
He continued, “For all of our arguments and all of our differences, we are all united by a deep, abiding love of our country.”
Pelosi described the role of Democrats under a new Republican president, citing Trump’s own pledge to clean up Washington.
“House Democrats pledge to seek common ground wherever we can: To forge a bipartisan path forward on job-creating infrastructure, to make taxes and foreign trade fair to American workers, to help Americans balance work and family life, and to ‘drain the swamp’ of big money from our campaigns, all of these provisions, President-elect Trump has pledged,” she said in her remarks.
She continued, “We will seek common ground. But we will stand our ground wherever in good conscience we must.”
Last October, 10 House Republicans didn’t vote for Ryan when the entire House took a roll call vote for the speaker. Instead, most voted for longshot Webster.
Republican House members typically vote for the person their conference already elected — Ryan was elected in vote after the election. Some of the 10 Republicans who broke from voting for hikm are still around.
And Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus will try to keep Ryan focused on what they view as conservative priorities. Anyone who breaks with him this time around is sending a message about what they want from the future of the Republican Party.
In November, Pelosi defeated Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan to retain her post as the top elected Democrat in the House during a closed-door meeting.
The final vote was 134-to-63 for Pelosi, meaning she matched her prediction that she’d retain the support of two-thirds of House Democrats. But it also meant that close to one-third of the diminished group voted for a change in leadership after getting beat again on Election Day.
The Democratic caucus vote, however, was secret ballot, whereas Tuesday’s vote was public, meaning there could have been more political consequences for publicly opposing Pelosi, who’s expected to retain her seat.