Politics January 8, 2017: 115th Congress convenes, Ryan reelected speaker and Senate sworn-in

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115th Congress convenes, Ryan reelected speaker and Senate sworn-in

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Congress met on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, for the 115th session and the first of Donald Trump’s administration with their leaders voted back. The ceremonial duties of the first day in the House and Senate went off smoothly with Paul Ryan (R-WI) being reelected Speaker of the House of Representatives and Nancy Pelosi (D- CA) as the Democratic Minority Leader. Meanwhile, in the Senate, Vice President Joe Biden swore-in his last group of Senators including newly elected freshmen as well as 27 other Senators who won reelection in November.

In the House, the new Congress was swore-in, and they formally voted in their leaders. Ryan retained his speakership as expected with an almost unanimous vote the Republican caucus. Ryan received 239 votes with only Republican objector, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)
W ho decided to vote for Ryan opponent for the speakership in 2015 Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.). Ryan now embarks on his first full term as speaker presiding over a majority of 241 Republicans, while Pelosi’s Democrats gained six seats with 194 members.

Pelosi retained her minority leader post with 189 votes with only four Democrats defecting. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-New York) cast their votes for Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) who challenged Pelosi this past fall. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) voted for Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), while Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) chose Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

In the Senate, Vice President Biden presided over the swearing-in ceremonies of freshmen and those re-elected in November for the last time. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) greeted the 115th Congress and their families that attended the ceremony. McConnell expressed, “I’m pleased to welcome back familiar faces and express warm greetings to new members.” McConnell let the Senators know there is “hard work” to be done this term, but now they should “take a moment to celebrate the rich tradition of this day.”

The Senate chamber was filled with both the newcomers and past Senators including those that are just retiring. Past Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) joined the festivities while former Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Former Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) also attended the ceremony. With this 115th session, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) becomes the “longest serving female senator.”

Biden swore-in the freshmen senators in a separate ceremony in the Old Senate Chamber on Tuesday afternoon. Among the freshmen, two new Republicans, “Todd Young (R-Ind.) and John Kennedy (R-La.),” and five new Democrats “Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).”

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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Politics November 15, 2016: House Speaker Paul Ryan re-elected by Republican conference

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House Speaker Paul Ryan re-elected by Republican conference

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Wikimedia Commons

House Republicans have opted to re-elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R- WI) to a second term. On Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 15, 2016, in a closed-door session Republicans unanimously voted that Ryan should stay on as House Speaker in the 115th session.

Ryan’s re-election with support from all Republicans is surprising, but after a week of shocks, that has become the new norm for Republicans. Ryan’s speakership was in danger before President-elect Donald Trump’s shocking upset victory a week ago on Tuesday, Nov. 8. His lack of support and distancing himself from Trump after a 2005 lewd tape emerged threatened Trump’s chances of winning the presidency. The conservative Freedom Caucus and some Southerner Republicans wanted Ryan replaced.

After the FBI reopened their investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Trump rose in the polls that changed, Ryan had a change of heart, he campaigned and told Americans particularly Republicans to vote for Trump. Since Trump’s election, Ryan has been President-elect Trump’s greatest endorser on Capitol Hill. Ryan sees himself guiding policy for the administration and Republican-controlled Congress. Ryan and Trump met on Thursday, Nov. 10 and had been talking on the phone each day.

Ryan told the conference that Vice President-elect Mike Pence told him Trump supports the entire House Republican leadership’s re-election. In the spirit of their new president, GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) gave Trump campaign hats red Make America great Again hats to each member.

Also, a new leadership position was created to help the new president. Ryan appointed Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) the congressional liaison to the Trump transition team. Collins was the one to second Ryan’s re-election. Collins said, “Paul Ryan’s future is as bright as ever. He has no opposition today. I’m seconding Paul Ryan’s nomination today as a sign of Trump’s support of Mr. Ryan. This is a team effort.”

On Tuesday, the Republicans also elected Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers to helm the National Republican Congressional Committee. Stivers was in the running with Rep. Roger Williams of Texas for the post. Now Ryan has to face a full vote in the House when they convene their new session in January, but with full support from the Republican majority, Ryan is certain to coast to a second term as Speaker of the House.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

Politics November 5, 2016: Paul Ryan makes it clear he plans to run for House Speaker again for 115th Congress

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Paul Ryan makes it clear he plans to run for House Speaker again for 115th Congress

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: NPR

Despite the chatter that Rep. Paul Ryan would not be reelected as Speaker of the House of Representatives, he is still planning to run for a second full term. Ryan appeared on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, on local Green Bay, Wisconsin radio show WTAQ’s “The Jerry Bader Show,” and he pushed back against claims by House Republicans that he could not win and should not run.

In the interview, Ryan dismissed a story published in the Hill on Thursday, claiming Republicans will not vote him because of his lack of support for Republican nominee Donald Trump. Ryan claimed, “This is the typical chatter you have every two years. They call it ‘palace intrigue’ in the Hill rags. I am going to seek to stay on as Speaker.”

Ryan cited the reasons why he wants and should remain, speaker, saying, “There’s a lot of unfinished work to do, and I think I can do a lot to help our cause and our country. I’ve led us to offer a very comprehensive agenda to take to the country and I want to execute and implement that agenda.”

The speaker has the support of his deputies for another term in the top spot in the House. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) have all spoken out supporting Ryan. According to House Republicans all the deputy leaders would be flawed candidates and would never win the votes to become speaker.

On Thursday, the Hill published a feature report entitled “Chatter grows that Ryan could step down” based on the comments of four House Republicans, one which is a “senior lawmaker.” The representatives expressed that there is animosity within the party against Ryan and he could not win the 218 voted needed to remain speaker.

The Conservative Freedom Caucus is against him, as are some mainstream Republicans in the south and districts with constituents who strongly support Trump. Add the possibility of losing10 to 20 seats and Ryan’s odds would go down lower according to the sources. Additionally, 10 Republicans did not vote for Ryan the first time around. All these factors could spell defeat.

The Republican sources claim that Ryan’s future as Speaker is tied to the election results. If Trump wins, Ryan would have an easier time winning reelection, if Clinton wins or Trump loses by a small margin Ryan will face the blame that he could help the nominee and bring the White House into Republican hands. Supporting the nominee also helps the down ballots as well making sure Congress remains in Republican control.

Republican constituents are upset with the Speaker for abandoning Trump after the 2005 lewd tape emerged believing Ryan’s support and campaigning would have helped the GOP nominee. The nominee and the speaker have had a contentious relationship through the primaries and even after Trump became the presumptive nominee, Ryan was always reluctant to support him and took long to endorse him.

Ryan now seems to see the benefits of supporting Trump even marginally. Republicans are returning and rallying around the nominee and the entire ticket after news broke that the FBI is renewing their investigation in Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton

Earlier this week Ryan announced that he voted for the party’s nominee, although he did not mention Trump by name. In the last days of the campaign, Ryan plans to campaign with Trump’s running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence on Saturday in Wisconsin where they will both be campaigning with Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, is facing a tough reelection battle.

In his interview with Bader Ryan touted the ticket more as anti-Clinton vote rather an endorsement for Trump’s qualities. Ryan expressed, “Let that be a case for voting against Hillary Clinton. Let that be a case for voting for Trump, Pence, [Sen. Ron] Johnson, Congress, everybody.” Ryan argued, “She will bring all this baggage in, think of the cloud that will surround her with this ongoing investigation and how the Clintons play the system. I don’t think we want to see that in the White House again.”

A week after the election House Republicans intend to vote for speaker on Nov. 15. Then Ryan will face the entire new 115th Congress, which makes their formal vote on the first day of the new session on Jan. 3, 2017.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert inpresidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

Politics April 28, 2016: Former Speaker John Boehner describes Ted Cruz as Lucifer in the flesh

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Former Speaker John Boehner describes Ted Cruz as Lucifer in the flesh

By Bonnie K. Goodman

April 28, 2016 12:30 PM MST

 Former Speaker John Boehner does not believe Texas Senator Ted Cruz should be the GOP's nominee calling him Lucifer and a son of a bitch at a town hall at Stanford University, April 27, 2016
Former Speaker John Boehner does not believe Texas Senator Ted Cruz should be the GOP’s nominee calling him Lucifer and a son of a bitch at a town hall at Stanford University, April 27, 2016
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Politics November 30, 2015: Speaker Ryan invites Obama to his last State of the Union address as president

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Speaker Ryan invites Obama to his last State of the Union address as president

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, November 30, 2015, 5:13 PM MST

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan sent President Barack Obama an invitation letter for his last State of the Union Address; it will be the earliest date the address has been delivered in nearly 40 years, Nov. 30, 2015
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan sent President Barack Obama an invitation letter for his last State of the Union Address; it will be the earliest date the address has been delivered in nearly 40 years, Nov. 30, 2015
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Politics November 5, 2015: Paul Ryan ends Speaker of the House expense checks

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Paul Ryan ends Speaker of the House expense checks

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, November 5, 2015, 11:00 AM MST

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is changing the way that the House of Representatives does business starting with ending the speaker's monthly expense check, Nov. 4, 2015
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is changing the way that the House of Representatives does business starting with ending the speaker’s monthly expense check, Nov. 4, 2015
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Politics October 29, 2015: Paul Ryan elected 54th Speaker of the House calls for unity in first address

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Paul Ryan elected 54th Speaker of the House calls for unity in first address

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, October 29, 2015, 7:39 PM MST

Paul Ryan delivers his first speech as Speaker of the House of Representatives where he called for unity, Oct. 29, 2015

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Paul Ryan delivers his first speech as Speaker of the House of Representatives where he called for unity, Oct. 29, 2015
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images / RepPaulRyan YouTube

Politics October 29, 2015: John Boehner bids farewell to House of Representatives with no regrets

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John Boehner bids farewell to House of Representatives with no regrets

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, October 29, 2015, 2:51 PM MST

Outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner delivers his farewell address; Boehner is retiring after 25 years in Congress and five years as Speaker of the House, Oct. 29, 2015

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Outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner delivers his farewell address; Boehner is retiring after 25 years in Congress and five years as Speaker of the House, Oct. 29, 2015
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images / John Boehner YouTube

Politics October 29, 2015: Republicans nominate Paul Ryan for next Speaker of the House

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Republicans nominate Paul Ryan for next Speaker of the House 

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, October 29, 2015, 7:37 AM MST

 

House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-WI was officially nominated by House Republicans to become the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, becoming one of the youngest in history, Oct. 28, 2015
House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-WI was officially nominated by House Republicans to become the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, becoming one of the youngest in history, Oct. 28, 2015
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Politics October 23, 2015: Paul Ryan officially announces House Speaker candidacy after securing GOP votes

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By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, October 23, 2015, 11:47 AM MST

After securing the support of all three Republican House caucuses, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-WI formally announced he is running for Speaker of the House; his election is now just a formality, Oct. 22, 2015
After securing the support of all three Republican House caucuses, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-WI formally announced he is running for Speaker of the House; his election is now just a formality, Oct. 22, 2015
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Politics October 21, 2015: Paul Ryan to run for Speaker of the House if all GOP caucuses endorse bid

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Paul Ryan to run for Speaker of the House if all GOP caucuses endorse bid

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, October 21, 2015, 7:33 AM MST

House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan has finally succumbed to the pressure and will run for Speaker of the House, but the conference has to agree to certain conditions before he makes it official, Oct. 20, 2015
House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan has finally succumbed to the pressure and will run for Speaker of the House, but the conference has to agree to certain conditions before he makes it official, Oct. 20, 2015
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Politics October 8, 2015: Kevin McCarthy drops out of race for House speaker, will Boehner remain speaker?

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Kevin McCarthy drops out of race for House speaker, will Boehner remain speaker?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, October 8, 2015, 6:43 PM MST

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy shocked the Congressional Republicans by announcing that he was dropping out of the race to succeed Speaker John Boehner, Oct. 8, 2015
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy shocked the Congressional Republicans by announcing that he was dropping out of the race to succeed Speaker John Boehner, Oct. 8, 2015
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Politics September 28, 2014: Boehner wants Congress to vote on ground troops in war against ISIS

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Boehner wants Congress to vote on ground troops in war against ISIS 

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, September 28, 2014, 8:51 PM MST

In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News' This Week Speaker of the House John Boehner admitted US ground troops are necessary in the fight against ISIS, Sept. 28, 2014
In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News’ This Week Speaker of the House John Boehner admitted US ground troops are necessary for the fight against ISIS, Sept. 28, 2014
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images