Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan officially became the new speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday (October 29).
The 45-year-old succeeds John Boehner, who resigned last month amid dissent from hardliners in the Republican majority. Ryan now faces the tough task of mending the party’s divisions ahead of next year’s elections.
Ryan won 236 votes among the chamber’s 247 Republicans, snubbed by only a handful of conservatives. In a speech after the vote, he urged his colleagues to get their act together, saying infighting in the House had only added to the legislative gridlock in Washington.
“Let’s be frank, the House is broken,” he said. “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.”
The new and outgoing speaker were both warmly applauded, with Boehner giving an emotional farewell speech. In a tip to his successor, he said “real change takes time… and remember you can’t do a big job alone, especially this one.”
President Barack Obama reached out to Ryan the day before he assumed his duties and wished him well, a White House spokesman said, adding that Obama is hopeful they’ll be able to work together.