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In a Weepy Transition, Paul Ryan Replaces John Boehner as Speaker of the House

Paul Ryan was sworn into one of the most powerful positions in the United States government today, putting an end to weeks of Republican disarray.
Photo Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

The US House of Representatives elected Representative Paul Ryan as its new speaker today, replacing John Boehner and putting an end to weeks of disarray in the Republican Party.

Ryan won 236 votes among the 247 Republicans in the chamber, indicating that the Wisconsin congressman was deserted by only a handful of the hardline conservatives who pushed out Boehner earlier this month. Boehner, in a tearful farewell speech before the vote, said, "I leave with no regrets or burdens."

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In a closed-door session yesterday, House Republicans chose the 45-year-old Ryan for the speakership over his main Republican challenger, Representative Daniel Webster of Florida.

Related:  There's About to Be a New Speaker of the House — And His Name Is Paul Ryan

Webster received nine votes today, while former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Representative Jim Cooper of Tennessee each received one vote.

Ryan now occupies what is often called the second most powerful position in Washington DC.

House Republicans have desperately been looking for someone to fill the top leadership position since Boehner announced plans to step down last month. Much of the chaos has come from the Freedom Caucus, a powerful faction of 38 hardline conservatives, which worked to oust Boehner and endorsed California Representative Kevin McCarthy to take his place.

Related: Some Conservatives Are Not Impressed by Boehner's Sweet Budget Deal Swan Song

McCarthy abruptly withdrew his candidacy for the position after the Freedom Caucus turned on him. It soon became clear that no one else, including Ryan, wanted the job.

But over the past month, Republicans have pleaded for Ryan to take the job, with many in the GOP saying he is the best — and perhaps last — chance to achieve solidarity in the party. Last week Ryan received a supermajority of support from the Freedom Caucus, whose support he said was essential before he agreed to take the job.

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In 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney picked Ryan as his vice presidential nominee. Ryan is currently the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Ryan is the architect of conservative budget plans that sought to rein in federal spending in part by cutting federal retirement and health insurance plans.

As the 54th speaker, Ryan's first challenge will be to avoid a government shutdown on December 11 when funds for an array of federal agencies expire.

In what could have been a direct warning to the Freedom Caucus members, who sat listening to Boehner's farewell from their seats, the departing speaker advised, "Real change takes time. Yes, freedom makes all things possible, but patience is what makes all things real. So believe in the long, slow struggle."

Reuters News Agency contributed to this report.