Ryan gets House GOP speaker nod
House Republicans formally nominated Rep. Paul Ryan for speaker Wednesday, looking to him to help unify the party after a tumultuous period -- though defections in the ranks could preview some last-minute drama on the House floor.
The Wisconsin congressman and 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee easily beat rival Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., to become the Republican nominee, with 200 lawmakers backing Ryan and 43 backing Webster. Ryan will formally stand for a vote in the full House on Thursday, likely against Democrats' pick Nancy Pelosi.
"This begins a new day in the House of Representatives," Ryan said, in brief remarks after Wednesday's internal vote. While praising outgoing Speaker John Boehner, he vowed to begin "turning a page."
"Our party has lost its vision, and we are going to replace it with a vision," he said.
Ryan's tally on Wednesday, though, fell short of the roughly 218 that ultimately will be needed to lock down the top congressional job. If he can't garner that many votes from the outset on Thursday, the House would have to keep voting until a candidate wins a majority.
GOP leadership sources nevertheless tell Fox News they don't foresee problems on the floor Thursday.
Ryan, as speaker, would mark a stark change in leadership style from the backslapping Boehner, who plans to retire shortly after his successor is set in place.
The fiscal policy wonk who has cultivated a strong conservative following would take the gavel after spending the better part of the year as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
While he initially resisted appeals to run for the job, Ryan ultimately relented to Republican pressure. Ryan sought the job on his own terms, though, laying out several conditions that caused some consternation inside the conference -- including a demand to strip a tool that can be used to oust a sitting speaker and the condition that he have support from all major GOP caucuses.
Despite some lingering opposition, Ryan mostly secured that support in the end.
The 45-year-old congressman is seen by some as a bridge between the embattled GOP establishment and hardline conservatives who successfully pushed out Boehner.
Bringing his caucus together won't be easy. Conservatives support him, but are watching closely to see if he can really change the way things are done.
Not everyone praises Ryan.
Some members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, the group largely responsible for Boehner's decision to step down, have expressed concerns that Ryan, whom Boehner pushed to run, will be more of the same. The group has criticized Boehner for working with Democrats and negotiating legislation behind the scenes, without input from all sides of the caucus.
Ryan secured the support of the group -- one of his conditions for running -- by pledging to open up the legislative process.
Ryan opposes abortion rights and same-sex marriage, and has a top rating from gun-rights groups. But in conflict with some Republicans, he supported the auto industry and bank bailouts that many in the GOP's right flank criticized.
But his focus has always been budget and tax policy. He is a disciple of, and past aide to, the late Rep. Jack Kemp, once a GOP vice presidential nominee himself who effusively promoted tax cuts as a central tenet for economic growth.
Ryan has said he wants to overhaul the tax code and rework the nation's welfare system. He considered being the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee his dream job -- one of the reasons he was reluctant when Republicans worked to recruit him as speaker.
Another was his family.
Unlike previous, older speakers, Ryan has three school-age children and he says firmly that they are his priority. The Ryans live in Janesville, Wisconsin, on the western edge of his district that runs from the shores of Lake Michigan through farm country south of Madison.
"I cannot and will not give up my family time," he said when he announced his candidacy for speaker.
Democrats have criticized Ryan's policy goals, including his attempts to overhaul domestic programs like Medicare and food stamps. But many say he is easy to work with -- a quality that could serve him well in the unruly House.