GOP House Leaders Retain Positions In The New Congress

Nov 15, 2016
Originally published on November 15, 2016 5:46 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

To no one's surprise, Paul Ryan has been chosen by House Republicans to serve as speaker again. It was a unanimous vote. With expansive support from his caucus, Ryan will breeze through the formal election before the full House in January.

This happy, united Republican front is a sharp departure from the unrest seen within the ranks of the party barely a month ago. NPR's Ailsa Chang reports that Ryan has Donald Trump to thank for that.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: How quickly the kissing and making up begins after you win a presidential election. In a span of a few short weeks, Paul Ryan went from giving Donald Trump the cold shoulder to basking in his glow.

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PAUL RYAN: Donald Trump is a multibillionaire successful businessman who has been so successful because he's surrounded himself with good people. He is a man who has made great success, created tens of thousands of jobs because he gets good advice from good people who are around him in his life.

CHANG: This is the sound of a grateful man because a mere month ago, if you were at a Republican rally in the House speaker's home state, you would hear the words Paul Ryan sucks.

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UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Paul Ryan sucks. Paul Ryan sucks.

RYAN: The Republican Party of Wisconsin...

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Paul Ryan sucks.

CHANG: Ryan got some intense blowback last month when he announced he'd stop defending Trump after a video showed Trump bragging about grabbing women by their genitals. House conservatives denounced Ryan for his disloyalty. Many of them, like Mark Meadows of North Carolina, said Ryan's days as speaker were numbered. Today Meadow's scoffs at all that.

MARK MEADOWS: Bantering back and forth about who's going to lead our conference is misplaced energy.

CHANG: Let bygones be bygones, Meadows says.

MEADOWS: When President-elect Trump was elected on November 8, much of the animosity of who supported and who didn't support was diminished because everybody's cheering about the fact that they've got their person in the White House.

CHANG: Never mind that Trump might want to spend more on infrastructure projects than most Republicans would prefer or that Trump might oppose cuts to Social Security that conservatives have long clamored for. Ryan says there's still plenty of overlap.

RYAN: The point is, Donald Trump wants jobs. Donald - I've talked to Donald so many times just this week - which is, let's make sure we get people back to work. Let's make sure we get this economy growing. This is something we share. This is something we're excited about working on with Donald Trump.

CHANG: And so for now, a caucus known for its infighting is crowing about newfound harmony. At least Tom Cole of Oklahoma is.

TOM COLE: We've never had a big disagreement over goals, and it was just tactics. And the tactics just got a lot easier because obviously it's a Republican House and Republican Senate, Republican president. So I think if we stick together, we'll get the things we want. If we don't, we won't.

CHANG: Sticking together may be the problem for the other side now. House Democrats have postponed their leadership election for two weeks. Many Democrats say they need time to get things off their chests before allowing Nancy Pelosi to take the helm again. Ailsa Chang, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.