WASHINGTON — After the House Republican caucus on Tuesday unanimously renominated Rep. Paul Ryan as House speaker and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as House majority leader, Rep. Peter King said, “This is as united as I’ve seen the party.”
King, the long-serving Republican from Seaford who has seen his party in several intramural fights in the past, said, “It’s amazing what a presidential victory can do.”
Last year, the right-leaning Freedom Caucus among House Republicans forced out the previous House speaker, then Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), and grumbled about Ryan (R-Wis.) not being conservative enough.
This year, a Freedom Caucus member, Rep Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), put Ryan’s name in nomination. Meanwhile, House Democrats, stunned by the Republican success in the election last week, are split on the direction of their party and some are questioning their leadership.
“There is a lot of eagerness and optimism about the possibilities for January,” said Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), with high hopes for tax reform, overhauling the Affordable Care Act, improving the Department of Veterans Affairs and securing the borders.
Both Long Island Republican congressmen said Ryan appears to be working closely with the still-forming Trump administration on creating an agenda for the first several months of the new Congress, when Republicans will control both House and Senate.
But King added that while the House Republicans are “very upbeat,” they also are “very realistic because they know there is a hard road ahead.” They know, King said, they have “to deliver” on their promises and that their majority and unity “could be very fleeting.”