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House Works to Find Next Speaker

After much anticipation, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced on Tuesday that he would run for Speaker of the House as long as he could be a "unifying figure" among the party.

Ryan stated in his speech that as speaker he would primarily focus on communicating the party's message and would not dedicate as much time to fundraising as previous speakers. Should Ryan feel he's unlikely to garner near-unanimous support from Republicans, he's content to remain the chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Prior to the House's week-long recess, Republicans were confident that current Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) would replace John Boehner, but McCarthy unexpectedly dropped out of the race, saying that he did not believe he would be able to unite the divided Republican conference as leader of the party.

McCarthy, the favorite to succeed outgoing Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio), would have had the 124 votes necessary to be nominated for speaker during the closed-door internal GOP conference election, however, he did not feel he would have the simple majority of 218 votes necessary to win during the formal vote on the House floor.

McCarthy was challenged for the speaker position by Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.). Chaffetz has spoken out against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) promise that there will be no more government shutdowns during his time in office.

Prior to McCarthy's announcement, Boehner postponed elections for majority leader and whip, which were also scheduled to take place on the same day, in response to conservatives who argued that McCarthy might lose the speaker's race and keep his position as majority leader. McCarthy will retain the majority leader post through 2016, and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) will stay in his current position as House majority whip.

Boehner, who announced that he would be resigning on October 30, has confirmed that he will remain as speaker of the House until a successor is elected. Internal Republican elections for speaker will be held on October 28, followed by a floor election on October 29.