House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 3, 2016. Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, with whom Ryan ran as the vice-presidential candidate, is charging into the increasingly divisive White House race with a verbal lashing of Donald Trump and a plea for fellow Republicans to shun the front-runner for the good of country and party. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Paul Ryan Set To Return As Speaker

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) appears set to return in his role as Speaker in the next Congress. A secret ballot election among the Republican caucus today will set the stage for the formal election of the Speaker in January.

If Ryan wins today’s internal election for leadership of the Republicans in the House, he will be all but certain to return to the speakership next year. Today’s vote requires a majority of the Republican conference while the vote for speaker in January requires a majority of all lawmakers present, typically 218 votes.

The relationship between Speaker Ryan and President-elect Donald Trump has been contentious since the primary and is likely to continue to be so. Ryan issued a qualified endorsement of Trump after he secured the Republican nomination, but declined to campaign for him after release of the “Access Hollywood” tape.

A point of disagreement has emerged since the election as Trump doubled down on his plan to deport large numbers of illegal immigrants. “I think we should put people’s minds at ease: That is not what our focus is. That is not what we’re focused on. We’re focused on securing the border,” Ryan said on CNN. “We think that’s first and foremost, before we get into any other immigration issue, we’ve got to know who’s coming and going into the country — we’ve got to secure the border.”

Ryan’s return also sets the stage for a conflict with Trump advisor, Steve Bannon. Ben Shapiro, a former employee of Bannon at Breitbart News, wrote in the Daily Wire, “Bannon opposes the Republican Party, hates Paul Ryan” and noted that “minutes after the joint Bannon/Priebus announcement, Breitbart News approvingly tweeted about a Congressional rebellion against Speaker Ryan.”

Ryan’s return as Speaker will set the stage for a struggle over the future of the Republican Party. Republicans and President Trump will be pulled between the technocratic reforms of Paul Ryan and the scorched earth philosophy of Steve Bannon.

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David Thornton

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