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On the brink: Republicans elect Paul Ryan as their candidate for Speaker of the House

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WASHINGTON -- The era of Paul Ryan has begun on Capitol Hill after House Republicans nominated the 45-year-old Wisconsin congressman to serve as speaker of the House on Wednesday, October 28th. With one more vote on Thursday, Ryan will likely become the youngest to ascend to the post since before the Civil War.

Ryan will step into a job he repeatedly insisted he didn't want after easily defeating Florida Republican Daniel Webster for the top House leadership post, which is second in line to the succeed the president.

Ryan got the support of 200 our of 247 Republicans on Wednesday. That's more than enough to win the GOP nomination. But it's not the 218 required to win the speakership on the floor Thursday. He will need at least some of the 43 people who voted for Daniel Webster instead.

Speaking publicly for the first time as the nominee for speaker, Ryan thanked John Boehner, the man he's replacing, and then vowed to do things differently.

"We are going to turn the page. We are not going to have a House that looks like it did the last few years. We are going to move forward. We are going to unify. Our party has lost its vision and we are going to replace it with a vision. We are going to respect the people by representing the people -- and I want to thank my colleagues for bestowing on me this great honor. Thank you," Ryan said.

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

Milwaukee Democrat Gwen Moore said on Wednesday, the key question is whether the 40-plus people who voted against Ryan remain a thorn in his side for months to come.

"What I think is even more important, is will those 43 people allow him to govern consistent with the will of the majority of the majority?" said Moore.

Jim Sensenbrenner, one of Ryan's mentors on Capitol Hill, said his fellow Republicans need to unify so they can start solving real problems.

"All but a handful of Republican Congressmen realize that Paul Ryan is the person who is best suited to lead us in doing that," said Sensenbrenner.

Paul Ryan will be at the Capitol with family and friends for Thursday morning's vote. He will then make his first speech as House Speaker -- all before the noon hour.

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Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus issued the following statement after the House Republican Conference nominated Congressman Paul Ryan:

"Paul Ryan is the right person, at the right time to lead the House of Representatives during this critical period in our country’s history. Paul is a family man and a personal friend who Sally and I have been blessed to know for many years. Paul is also a conservative leader who has selflessly dedicated himself to making this country a better place for all Americans and I know that will be his driving focus as our next Speaker."

Changes sought to House process

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

Multiple House GOP members told CNN that Ryan's success will be determined less by his personality than by how he follows through on his pledge to make the House use a more bottom-up approach to governing. Rank-and-file members are demanding they be given the chance to put their imprint on legislation before it reaches the House floor.

"In the business world where I came from, once a process was in place, the person wasn't as important," Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, told CNN. "If I had one recommendation for a Speaker Ryan it would be - make sure the process gets in place very quickly so he can continue the policy side, and the process can then can continue to work."

Ryan already has vowed to change how the chamber operates and work on adjusting internal GOP conference rules to allow broader representation on committees.

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

The presumptive speaker already faced his first major challenge this week when Boehner announced he cut a major budget deal with the White House and quickly moved it toward a House vote Wednesday. Ryan distanced himself from the agreement, making conservatives happy by declaring that, "the process stinks."

But even though he criticized the process, Ryan announced hours before the vote on the House floor that he'd back the deal. And although it sets spending levels for the next two years, one of the new speaker's first tests will be passing a spending bill in December that sets more detailed budgets for federal agencies and avoids a government shutdown.

The following is a statement from Ryan on the budget deal:

"Once again, we are facing a hard deadline and few good options. There is no doubt that a better process would have produced a better result. If I’m elected speaker, we will begin a conversation about how to approach these big issues – as a team – long before we reach these kinds of deadlines. We simply can’t keep doing business this way.

Ultimately, my vote is going to be determined by the substance of the bill – and whether there is, at this point, a better alternative. As with any budget agreement, this one has some good, some bad, and some ugly. It does include meaningful reforms to strengthen our safety net programs, including significant changes to bolster Social Security. It would allow us to return to regular order in our budget process. And it would mean our men and women in uniform have the resources they need to carry out their mission.

What I’ve heard from members over the last two weeks is a desire to wipe the slate clean, put in place a process that builds trust, and start focusing on big ideas. What has been produced will go a long way toward relieving the uncertainty hanging over us, and that’s why I intend to support it. It’s time for us to turn the page on the last few years and get to work on a bold agenda that we can take to the American people."

Two men who were once representatives from Wisconsin spoke Wednesday at Marquette University. They come from different sides of the political aisle, but David Obey and Tom Petri think Ryan may have a chance at getting the job done as Speaker.

"There will be a little bit of a honeymoon for Paul, and if he can grab that opportunity and build some momentum, find some common ground that they can unite around that is positive, people will be surprised," Petri said.

"If the people who pushed Boehner out will just take a few breaths and understand that somebody just might have a bit of wisdom outside of their own circle then he can get things done," Obey said.


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