Paul Ryan Calls for Clean Slate in First Speech as Speaker

Paul Ryan Sworn in AP

Paul Ryan called for a clean slate and regular order in the House as he was sworn in as Speaker Thursday morning.

In advance of taking the oath — which was administered by the Dean of the House, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) — Ryan offered a vision for the House focused on improving the plight of the American people and the House’s function.

“To me, the House of Representatives represents what’s best of America,” he said. “The boundless opportunity to do good. But let’s be frank, the House is broken. We’re not solving problems, we’re adding to them. And I am not interested in laying blame. We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate clean.”

“Neither the members nor the people are satisfied with how things are going,” he adding, calling for changes to how the House works.

Namely, Ryan called for more member participation by returning to regular order, with committees take the lead in drafting legislation. According to the new Speaker — a two-time committee chair — the House must let all members contribute, arguing that it is not a matter of process but of principle.

“We are the body closest to the people. Every two years, we face the voters and sometimes face the music. But we do not echo the people, we represent the people. We are supposed to study up and do the homework they cannot do. So when we do not follow regular order, when we rush to pass bills that a lot of us don’t understand, we are not doing our job. Only a fully functioning house can truly represent the people,” he said.

According to Ryan, Americans are struggling and an end to Washington chaos would be a “relief” to them.

“What a weight off their shoulders,” he said.

“We are going to do all we can do so that working people get their strength back and people not working get their lives back. No more favors for the few. Opportunity for all. That is our motto,” he said.

He concluded with a call to renew the “American idea” and pointed to the honor of their mission.

“My friends, you have done me a great honor,” he said. “The people of this country, they’ve done all of us a great honor; now let’s prove ourselves worthy of it. Let’s seize the moment. Let’s rise to the occasion. And when we are done, let us say that we left the people, all the people, more united, happy, and free.”

Ryan also praised outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) as “a man of character” and a “class act.”

“He is without a question the gentleman from Ohio,” Ryan said.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) introduced Ryan and likewise thanked a teary-eyed Boehner for his service, calling him the “personification of the American Dream.”

“As you all know, Speaker Boehner was a formidable spokesman for the republican agenda,” she said. My Republican colleagues, I’m sure you know and I can attest to the fact that he was always true and loyal to the members of his caucus in any negotiations we ever had. Although we had our differences, and often, I always respected his dedication to this house and his commitment to his values. Thank you, John, for your leadership and courage as speaker.”

Boehner resigned as House Speaker with Ryan’s election. He will step down from his congressional seat at the end of the month.


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