THE House officially elected Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) as the 54th speaker of the House after he got the votes of 236 members, ending weeks of speculation about who would carry the Republican Party into the 2016 presidential election year. The next few weeks will provide insight into the congressman's strategy moving forward.
In his speech, Ryan called the House "broken" and urged his colleagues to come together, re-establish order and find unity and common ground.
"Only a fully functioning House can truly represent the people," he said on the House floor. "What a relief it would be to the American people if we finally got our act together — what a weight off their shoulders."
Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) said Ryan has a remarkable record of forging bipartisan compromise as he "fought to make responsible tax relief permanent, helped bipartisan trade promotion authority become law and worked to dismantle Obamacare."
Agricultural groups noted his pragmatism and bipartisan cooperation in Washington and expressed optimism that he can deliver on promises.
National Corn Growers Assn. president Chip Bowling said he hopes Congress will heed the advice of its new leader.
"From reforming our tax code to finding long-term solutions for our nation's roads and bridges, there is important work to do," Bowling said. "We ask Congress to take Speaker Ryan's words to heart. Let's wipe the slate clean, put aside partisan differences and commit to moving our country forward together."
American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman has called Ryan a "faithful friend of farmers and ranchers" during his time in Congress. "He has supported sensible changes in enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, backed open and fair trade with the rest of the world, fought chronic overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency and has been working to bring needed relief on the tax burden farmers and ranchers face," Stallman said.
Kristina Butts, executive director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn., said Ryan has a great reputation for focusing on policy rather than politics. Butts said she expects Ryan to refocus the emphasis on committee work and make the committee process work again.
"It will be interesting to see what his strategy will be, and we should know in the near future," Butts said. "It's likely that he will move issues that are really large and controversial by finding a consensus and a way with a path forward."