In 2012, Congressman Paul Ryan’s advocacy of policies for balancing the budget and fighting poverty that referenced his religious beliefs sparked criticism from Catholic leaders and academics who claimed he had misrepresented the Church’s social teaching.
Now, with his impending election as Speaker of the House, the Catholic Republican from Wisconsin — who served as Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 presidential election — will get a fresh chance to present his vision for legislative reforms to aid the poor and unite his fractious party.
“This begins a new day in the House of Representatives,” Ryan told reporters on Wednesday after he won broad support of the GOP caucus as the nominee as the new Speaker, according to The New York Times. “We are not going to have a House that looked like it did the last few years. We are going to unify. We are going to respect the people by representing the people.”
The formal vote on the House floor will be taken Thursday, when Ryan will take up the legislative duties of another Catholic leader in Congress, Speaker John Boehner, who struggled to unite the Republican caucus in the House, as Tea Party members grew exasperated with his failure to secure budget agreements with President Obama that checked the growth of the ballooning federal deficit.
Though it will take time for Ryan to unveil his plans for the House, Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute who has worked closely with the Wisconsin congressman on domestic and fiscal policy issues, believes his leadership will offer a striking contrast to his predecessor.
“He is going to expand the speaker’s job, and be more of a visionary in the conservative movement,” Brooks told the Register.
While Boehner was criticized by Tea Party members for punishing dissent, Brooks expects Ryan to foster debate as he encourages policy innovation.