Paul D. Ryan woke up Friday for the first time as speaker of the House. Little may feel different to him yet, but at least five things have immediately changed for the Wisconsin Republican:
The Line: As speaker, Ryan automatically joins the presidential line of succession. He could have been first in line if he and Mitt Romney had won the 2012 presidential election, but the former vice presidential candidate will have to settle for second in line. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is first.
The Protection: With the perks of a higher and more public office also come more threats and safety concerns. Ryan, like other members of the top congressional leadership, will have a security detail follow him around and transport him in an armored black SUV. And in the event of a national security emergency, such as 9/11, Ryan will be whisked away to a secret undisclosed location.
The Cash: Ryan is getting a pay raise and now becomes the highest paid member of Congress. Most members, regardless of the chamber in which they serve, currently make $174,000 a year, according to the Congressional Research Service. Now his salary will be bumped up to $223,500 a year. Ryan will be making more than the president pro tempore of the Senate and the House and Senate majority and minority leaders; they all make $193,400, according to CRS.
The Digs: Ryan had a small office off the House floor as Ways and Means chairman but that space is nothing compared to the sprawling Speaker Suite with a private balcony and spectacular view of the Mall, located just off the Capitol rotunda. Former Speaker John A. Boehner’s staff was seen moving stuff out of the suite earlier this week and Ryan’s staff is expected to begin moving in Friday.
The Gavel: Ryan is technically taking the gavel he used at Ways and Means to the speaker’s chair, but the power of that little wooden mallet just got significantly bigger. As speaker, Ryan is the presiding officer of the House. He can delegate that duty as he sees fit, but he can wield the gavel whenever he wants. Boehner opened the House every day when he was speaker, but designated a speaker pro tempore to preside over most legislative debates and House business.
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