WASHINGTON — Paul Ryan was unanimously re-elected House speaker by his Republican colleagues on Tuesday as he called for his party to unite behind President-elect Donald Trump.
The 46-year-old Wisconsin Republican, who was often at odds with Trump during the long presidential campaign, has pledged to work closely with the president-elect to advance Trump's agenda.
"Welcome to the dawn of a new unified Republican government," Ryan declared at a news conference a few hours before the closed-door leadership elections. "It feels really good to say that, actually. This will be a government focused on turning President-elect Trump’s victory into real progress for the American people. Our team is very excited, and we cannot wait to get to work."
Ryan faces another election in January, when the new Congress convenes. He must win a majority of House members — 218 votes — to keep his job.
Things were not going as smoothly Tuesday for House Democrats, who were devastated by Trump's election and Republicans continued control of both houses of Congress. Democrats postponed their leadership elections, moving them from Thursday until the week after Thanksgiving. A group of Democrats had circulated a letter among their colleagues saying a delay was needed to give members more time to analyze the election results.
Democrats are currently led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., but there are rumblings of a possible challenge to Pelosi.
Ryan has faced some of the same challenges as former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in trying to hold together an often fractious GOP caucus. Ryan was first elected speaker in October 2015 after Boehner retired amid growing criticism from the House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives.
While Ryan has also faced criticism from some of the same people, he has not encountered the kind of open rebellion that broke out against Boehner.
Ryan said Tuesday he knows that challenges remain.
"We recognize that the task ahead of us is enormous," he said. "If we are going to put our country back on the right track, we have got to be bold, and we have to go big. This country is expecting absolutely no less."
In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is expected to be re-elected Wednesday to the top leadership job by the Senate Republican Conference.