REUTERS - Republicans picked Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as their nominee to be the next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, uniting around the former vice presidential candidate ahead of a tough vote on a budget deal.
The nomination puts Ryan on track to replace retiring Speaker John Boehner and could boost a two-year budget deal meant to avert a government default that was set to reach the House floor later on Wednesday.
Ryan, 45, won the party's nod by a 200-43 vote, defeating Florida Representative Daniel Webster in a closed-door meeting of Republican House members in the Capitol.
"Our party has lost its vision and we're going to replace it with a vision," Ryan told reporters after the vote.
The bipartisan budget deal, announced on Tuesday, is Boehner's attempt to clear the decks for the new speaker and relieve market worries over a possible default next week. Ryan said he would support it.
Ryan's nomination caps weeks of turmoil as Republicans have struggled to unite behind a replacement for Boehner, who announced his retirement in September.
Ryan has no experience in leadership, but is widely respected as his party's most influential voice on tax and spending issues. He served as Republican vice presidential nominee in 2012. As speaker, he would be second in line to the U.S. presidency after the vice president.
Conservatives who voted against him in the Republican meeting said they would support him when the full House votes on Thursday.
"I'm voting for Paul on the floor, of course," said Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who voted for Webster.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said she had a "great deal of respect" for Ryan despite their differences, because "he knows the issues, he knows the rules."
Ryan said he wanted a more bottom-up approach if he is elected and hoped to tackle fiscal issues long before running into deadlines. He reluctantly decided to run for speaker after quarreling party factions unified behind him. Boehner plans to retire on Friday.
Several right-wingers, even some who plan to support Ryan, have said they will reject the budget deal because it increases discretionary spending by $80 billion over two years. It also extends the U.S. Treasury's borrowing authority through March 2017. Farm-state lawmakers from both parties have also objected to a provision that cuts crop-insurance subsidies.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the deal would shrink U.S. deficits by nearly $80 billion over 10 years by raising revenues and reducing long-term health, pension and Social Security costs. This could ease concerns of some fiscal hawks.
Analysts say the additional spending could boost GDP slightly, and the White House says it would create 500,000 new jobs over two years.
Pelosi said Democrats would provide enough votes to ensure its passage.
The U.S. government risks defaulting on its obligations if it does not raise the debt limit by Nov. 3.
The outlook for the legislation in the Senate was unclear. Conservative Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul said he will launch procedural objections to slow its advance because he wants to hold the line on both military and domestic spending.
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