Just a few years after serving as his party’s nominee for vice president, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan once again faced a chance to take on a key role in the Republican Party during 2015.
When Ohio Congressman John Boehner announced in late September he would step down as Speaker of the House by the end of the next month, Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan was adamant that he was not interested in the job. The Janesville Republican cited concerns about being away from his family as a main reason for that decision. “This is a job where you are expected to be on the road about a hundred days a year,” he said. “Our kids are 10, 12, and 13…and I’m not going to do that.”
Ryan felt he would be able to better serve the country, and his home state, by staying on as the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, a panel he said deals closely with the issues he cares about. But as the weeks went by and Republicans failed to unite behind a candidate, Ryan started to feel pressure to rethink his position. Wisconsin Congressman Reid Ribble (R-WI) called it a “gut check” moment for Ryan.
By late October, Ryan had changed his tune and said he was open to the job, under certain conditions. After meeting with key factions of the House Republican caucus, he said “I have shown my colleagues what I think success looks like, what I think it takes to unify and lead…and how my family commitments come first. I have left this decision in their hands and, should they agree with these requests, then I am happy and I am willing to get to work.”
Ryan managed to rally that support, and he was elected Speaker by the end of the month. He set out his vision right away for fixing what he called a broken House. “How reassuring it would be if we actually fixed the tax code, put patients in charge of their health care, grew our economy, strengthened our military, lifted people out of poverty and paid down our debt,” Ryan said, during his first speech after the election.
Ryan is now the first person from the state to serve as Speaker of the House.