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Ryan touts unified GOP government

Alan Fram
Associated Press

Washington — Speaker Paul Ryan unanimously won his GOP colleagues’ votes on Tuesday for another term at the helm of the House. He told fellow Republicans he had President-elect Donald Trump’s support, and heralded “the dawn of a new, unified Republican government.”

“It feels really good to say that actually,” Ryan told reporters. “This will be a government focused on turning President-elect Trump’s victory into real progress for the American people.”

While victory was the GOP unifier, Democrats were verging on disarray. House Democrats abruptly announced Tuesday that they were delaying their own leadership elections set for Thursday until Nov. 30 to give lawmakers more time to process disastrous election results.

It’s not clear whether the election delay might morph into a real challenge to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. She has led House Democrats for more than 12 years and has consolidated support with strong fundraising and an ability to deliver votes, but there’s long been grumbling from Democrats who say new leadership is needed at the top.

As for Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican still has to win a floor vote for speaker in January, when all members of the House will cast ballots, including Democrats.

But he secured the nomination at a closed-door GOP conference vote Tuesday afternoon with the strong backing of his fellow House Republicans, even though a few conservative dissenters pushed unsuccessfully to delay the balloting.

Those grumblings of dissent could hardly be heard over the buzz of enthusiasm as House Republicans convened for their first regular conference meeting since Trump won the presidential election. Even though a number of House Republicans, including Ryan, had opposed Trump or were critical along the way, most said they’re now firmly on board and prepared to try to enact Trump’s agenda on immigration, infrastructure, energy and jobs.

For Democrats, ill-feeling was only magnified in defeat.

“Everything’s not good. Business as usual is not gonna work,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz. “This is about our constituents. Saying we have heard you. We have clearly missed the mark with regard to legislation and messaging.”

The situation brings risks since Republicans will have no one to blame but themselves if they can’t deliver on Trump’s promises. Already GOP leaders and Trump himself have been shifting on some of his pledges, including the border wall and a full repeal of Obama’s health care law.

Ryan refused to answer if Congress would go along with Trump’s plan to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure.