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Ryan Renominated for House Speaker


House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. talks with reporters after a House Republican leadership meeting, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 15, 2016.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. talks with reporters after a House Republican leadership meeting, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 15, 2016.

Signs of the long, divisive presidential contest that nearly tore the Republican Party apart were nowhere to be seen Tuesday. Republican members of the House easily renominated Paul Ryan to be their leader. In January the new congress will confirm him as speaker for his first full term.

As members of the House Republican conference convened for their leadership elections. On each of their seats: a red-and-white "Make America Great Again" hat.

Many members left the meeting wearing the Trump campaign’s signature hat, demonstrating a solidarity that had been in doubt up until the Republican nominee’s historic surprise win over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton last week.

"Welcome to the dawn of a new, unified Republican government," Paul Ryan told reporters after the closed conference meeting.

WATCH: Paul Ryan on ambitious Republican agenda for 2017


Ryan’s position as speaker of the House was widely assumed to be in jeopardy if Donald Trump lost the presidential election, following a chaotic campaign season in which the Republican from Wisconsin walked a fine line between endorsing the nominee of his party and distancing himself from Trump’s more controversial statements.

Those days seemed forgotten, though, as Ryan greeted reporters for his first post-election press availability on Capitol Hill.

"If we’re going to put our country back on the right track, we have to go bold, and we have to go big," said Ryan, who unveiled "A Better Way" back in June — a six-point legislative roadmap that tackles poverty, healthcare and tax reform among other issues.

"There are going to be a lot more things made in America," said Rep. Steve Scalise, holding up one of the hats, as he told reporters the first 100 days of a Trump administration would be crucial in getting the economy back on track.

FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, file photo, Stephen Bannon, campaign CEO for President-elect Donald Trump, leaves Trump Tower in New York.

FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, file photo, Stephen Bannon, campaign CEO for President-elect Donald Trump, leaves Trump Tower in New York.

Potential for division

But Trump’s controversial appointment of Steve Bannon, former executive chairman of the far-right leaning Breitbart News, as his senior strategist and co-equal of newly-appointed chief of staff Reince Prebus, eventually could show up cracks in that unity.

"This is a person who helped him win an incredible victory and ran an incredible campaign. The president is going to be judged on the results of this administration,” Ryan said of Bannon, who previously had called the speaker "the enemy."

Ryan brushed off Bannon’s past criticism, saying he was not looking backwards but forwards. One of the immediate concerns moving forward will be funding the government after a continuing resolution expires on December 9.

"Those are decisions that are being made with the transition team; none of those have been made yet. We are now sitting down with the Trump administration-in-waiting along with our colleagues to come up with a game plan," said Ryan.

FILE - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

FILE - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

As Republicans presented a unified front, House Democrats met just down the hallway for a much more introspective meeting. Rep. Tim Ryan, a seven-term Congressman from Ohio, confirmed Monday he was interested in challenging current leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi for the top Democratic leadership spot.

"We’ve been through hell," Pelosi told members, who ended up delaying their own leadership vote until November 30, after Congress returns from a Thanksgiving break.

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    Katherine Gypson

    Katherine Gypson is a reporter for VOA’s News Center in Washington, D.C.  Prior to joining VOA in 2013, Katherine produced documentary and public affairs programming in Afghanistan, Tunisia and Turkey. She also produced and co-wrote a 12-episode road-trip series for Pakistani television exploring the United States during the 2012 presidential election. She holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from American University. Follow her @kgyp

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