The hand-off: How Speakers Ryan to O’Neill came to power
6:35 PM EDT, Thu October 29, 2015
The current Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin. He gained his power from his predecessor, former Speaker John Boehner, after the Ohio Republican shocked the political world by deciding to vacate his position. Click through for other recent speakers:
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Former Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, gained his power from his predecessor, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when the GOP gained the majority of seats in the House in the 2010 midterm elections. Boehner announced his intention to leave the position in September 2015, and Paul Ryan succeeded him in October.
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U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi was the first and only female speaker of the House. Her speakership lasted from January 4, 2007, to January 3, 2011. Pelosi, a Democrat, lost her seat to the Republican majority in the 2010 midterms. John Boehner took the gavel.
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Dennis Hastert remains the longest serving Republican speaker in history, from January 6, 1999, to January 3, 2007. However, the GOP lost its majority in the House of Representatives, leaving Democrat Nancy Pelosi to become speaker. On Thursday, May 28, Hastert was accused in an indictment of lying to the FBI and evading currency reporting requirements as he sought to pay off a subject to "cover up past misconduct." On Thursday, October 28, Hastert pleaded guilty in the case.
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Newt Gingrich broke the four-decade line of Democratic speakers by becoming speaker from 1995 to 1999 and was named Man of the Year by Time magazine for the accomplishment. He then fell from grace after a disappointing 1998 midterm election for the GOP, prompting him to step down from both the speakership and Congress. Gingrich's resignations came as a complete surprise to many, as the speaker had been fighting to keep his top job until the announcement.
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Tom Foley, a Democrat who represented Washington state in the House for 30 years, took over the office of the speaker after the resignation of Jim Wright. Foley served as speaker from 1989 to January 1995 but was defeated in the 1994 election by George Nethercutt.
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Jim Wright of Texas served two years as speaker, after Massachusetts Democrat Tip O'Neill retired. But he stepped down in 1989 after facing a House Ethics Committee investigation on improprieties with the sale of his book and fees from speaking engagements. He was the first speaker to resign in the face of a scandal. He died on May 6, 2015, at 92.
A Massachusetts Democrat who served as speaker from 1977 until retirement in 1987, Tip O'Neill was well-known for his deal-making as well as his collegiality with former President Ronald Reagan. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi thought to commemorate the 34-year congressional career of O'Neill with an office building on the edge of Capitol Hill that bears his name. O'Neill was the longest continuously serving House speaker of any party in U.S. history.