Republican Paul Ryan is new House Speaker

WASHINGTON • United States lawmakers have elected Mr Paul Ryan, a conservative Republican who helped steer budget and tax policy in Congress, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, seeking to end months of political disarray.

Republicans put up a majority of 236 House votes yesterday to elect Mr Ryan, putting him in charge of legislation that moves through the 435-member chamber and next in line to the US presidency after the vice-president.

Mr Ryan, 45, replaces Mr John Boehner, who wielded the Speaker's gavel for four turbulent years and announced last month that he would be stepping down by today.

The new Speaker inherits a party conference that is divided over whether to cooperate with Democrats and the Obama administration to forge agreements such as the two-year Budget deal passed on Wednesday by the House, or instead use their power over the purse to try to force policy concessions from the President.

"We have nothing to fear from honest differences honestly stated.

"If you have ideas, let's hear them," Mr Ryan plans to tell House members in a speech immediately after the election, according to his office.

Earlier, the House voted 266 to 167 to pass the Budget deal negotiated by Mr Boehner, the White House and other congressional leaders intended to clear the decks for the new Speaker and relieve market concerns about a possible federal default next week.

The plan extends the federal debt limit through March 2017 and eases automatic spending caps to add US$80 billion (S$111 billion) in new discretionary spending over two years.

The Budget deal now moves to the Senate, where some conservatives have vowed to try to block its progress with procedural hurdles.

If it is passed by the Senate, Mr Ryan's first major task as Speaker will be to implement the plan with a major multi-agency spending Bill needed by Dec 11.

Unlike virtually all of his predecessors, Mr Ryan has never served in House leadership, but heads the tax-writing House Committee on Ways and Means, and is widely respected among conservative Republicans for his Budget plans.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2015, with the headline 'Republican Paul Ryan is new House Speaker'. Print Edition | Subscribe