Updated 12:15 p.m. | Rep. Paul D. Ryan, elected Thursday as the 54th speaker of the House, called on his colleagues to help him fix a "broken" chamber.
"I am not interested in laying blame," Ryan said. "We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate clean." Ryan, a former chairman of the Budget and Ways and Means committees, suggested the committees again draft all major legislation. This, he said, would allow the experts to write the bills and give the minority a refreshed voice in the process, incentivizing them to work in good faith.
"If there were ever a time for us to step up, this would be that time," he said.
Ryan Elected Speaker
But the morning wasn't all about looking forward. The Wisconsin Republican replaces John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, who led an increasingly fractious conference as speaker for the last five years and delivered an emotional farewell address ahead of the vote on his final day in the House.
Ryan received 236 votes, well more than the majority necessary. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., received 184 votes and nine members voted for Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla.
Ryan's ascension brings an end to a chaotic month of political maneuvering. After Pelosi handed Ryan the gavel, he began his remarks with a tribute to Boehner, who remained standing at the back of the chamber.
"He is a true class act," Ryan said. "He is, without a question, the Gentleman from Ohio."
Speaking of the enormous weight on Congress's shoulders, Ryan said, "If you ever pray, let's pray for each other. Republicans for Democrats, and Democrats for Republicans."
After applause, Ryan quipped, "And I don't mean pray for a conversion!"
Ryan, 45, is serving his ninth term in Congress, representing Wisconsin's 1st District. He was the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2012. His running mate, Mitt Romney, looked on from the House gallery, seated behind the Ryan family — Ryan's mother, wife, daughter and two sons.
GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., formally nominated Ryan before the vote, saying the House is "eager for a fresh start."
"He's more than a chairman to us. He's more than a colleague. He's a friend," she said. "I can say in all candor he did not seek this office; the office sought him."