Just yesterday, Representative Paul D. Ryan was elected the 54th Speaker of the House, following weeks of uncertainty within the Republican Party. Above all, I would like to congratulate Speaker Ryan on his new position, and wish him all the best as he begins this new and exciting chapter in his political career.
Speaker Ryan engenders the support of nearly the entire Republican Party, which – as we have seen – is no small feat. This week, along with former Speaker John Boehner, he was able to facilitate enough bipartisanship in the House to approve legislation that would reopen the Export-Import Bank, as well as a two-year budget deal that raises the nation’s debt ceiling and potentially dodges a fiscal crisis.
As former Speaker of the House, my father Tip O’Neill understood that the President is elected by the people of the country, and that the obligation of the Speaker and the majority leader in the U.S. House and Senate are to work with that president, whether you’re of the same party or not. And to keep things moving.
It was a very different time, in this regard. My father’s willingness to work and to make people look good was, attitudinally, very different. He also knew how to reward and punish members that were becoming unruly and be unabashed in making that happen.
Under his speakership, he strived to create a more open chamber, emphasizing a larger distribution of power and involvement among committee chairs, sub-chairs, and all members of the House – not unlike what Speaker Ryan has pledged to do during his tenure.
While Speaker Ryan earned 200 votes in the House GOP Conference and a total of 235 votes during the floor vote, I had hoped he would have garnered about 215 votes from the Republican Party – a bloc of support that would have illustrated the Freedom Caucus’ willingness to work with him. He, too, will have a struggle in bridging conservative ideologies to attract a consensus, but Speaker Ryan will do his best, and I wish him luck.