Republicans back Paul Ryan for next speaker

2015-10-28 22:26
Paul Ryan. (AP)

Paul Ryan. (AP)

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Washington - Republican lawmakers in the US House of Representatives backed Paul Ryan on Wednesday to serve as the next speaker of the House.

The caucus voted in a closed door session in favour of Ryan, who replaces John Boehner who is leaving Congress at the end of the month.

Ryan, 45, represents a rural district in the Midwestern state of Wisconsin and since January has been chair of the House's tax-writing panel, after previously leading the budget committee. He would be the 62nd House speaker and the youngest since 1869.

The Republican vice presidential nominee in 2012, Ryan had reluctantly become the focus of efforts to replace Boehner, who is quitting the speakership after years of infighting with right-wing members of his own party.

After insisting since last month that he preferred to continue in his tax-writing post, Ryan pivoted last week, saying he would be "glad to serve" as speaker if House Republicans - including the restive right-wing - unified behind him.

Conservative opposition Republicans, who have held a majority in the House since January 2011, currently have 247 members in the 435-seat chamber.

Boehner's deputy, Kevin McCarthy, shocked members by withdrawing his speaker candidacy earlier this month after failing to secure the support of the most conservative faction of the Republican caucus.

Lawmakers have urged Ryan to accept the post after the announcement of Boehner's departure and McCarthy's move added to uncertainty in Congress in the midst of crucial decisions on the delayed 2016 budget. The House was due to vote on a budget agreement hammered out by Boehner and other leaders later Wednesday.

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