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US politicians pick Paul Ryan as House speaker

The US House of Representatives has voted Republican Paul Ryan as its new speaker, following John Boehner's resignation. Ryan received 236 votes from the 435 member chamber.

The 45-year-old Wisconsin congressman was elected on Thursday following months of political disarray that forced the retirement of former speaker John Boehner.

Ryan, who had said he would only take the job if divided Republican factions would unify behind him, earned 236 votes from the 435-member chamber, including 247 Republicans.

The role of speaker serves as the presiding officer of the US House of Representatives and as leader of the majority political party in the House.

By taking on the role, Ryan also becomes the number two successor for the US presidency, behind Vice President Joe Biden, if Barack Obama was to vacate the Oval Office.

His predecessor, John Boehner, who held the position of speaker for nearly five years, announced he would step down last month.

The Ohio-based congressman came under pressure from rebellious conservatives in the party, who complained that progress over plans for smaller government and changes to federal social policies had been too slow.

Many conservatives also believe that Boehner has been excessively powerful, forcing bills to the chamber without rank-and-file input.

Former speaker John Boehner

In his farewell speech, former speaker John Boehner said he had no regrets, adding that “real change takes time.”

As the 54th speaker, Ryan's first challenge will be to avoid a government shutdown in early December when funds for an array of federal agencies expire. Some analysts have predicted that he will be unable to unite the Republicans.

Before leaving, Boehner secretly negotiated a sweeping, two-year budget deal with the White House, which has still to be approved by Congress.

Shortly after winning the vote, Ryan told fellow politicians: "Let's be frank. The House is broken. 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."

Previously the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Ryan has served in the chamber since 1999.

He is the architect of conservative budget plans that sought to rein in federal spending in part by cutting retirement and health insurance plans.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi received 184 votes in Thursday's election for speaker, while Daniel Webster, the rebellious conservative who launched a long-shot bid for speaker last month, received nine votes.

mm/jil (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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