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Paul Ryan elected speaker of the House

Rep. Paul Ryan was elected House speaker Thursday, taking over the leadership of an unruly chamber that must deal with a fiscal mess.

"Let's be frank: the House is broken," the Wisconsin Republican said after being elected. "We're not solving problems; we're adding to them and I am not interested in laying blame."

Facing a Tuesday deadline, the House passed a tentative budget-and-debt deal Wednesday that would lift the debt ceiling until March 2017. The bill now moves to the Senate and would lead to a government default if it does not pass.

A lack of action before Dec. 11 would also lead to a partial government shutdown.

Ryan needed 218 votes to be elected 54th speaker of the House. He received 236 Republican votes. Just nine hardline conservatives backed Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida, according to The Associated Press.

"Paul Ryan is the right man, at the right time, to lead the House of Representatives at this critical period in history. Paul is a devoted husband and father, as well as a loyal, long time friend, and a man committed to making our country a better place," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

The 45-year-old Ryan initially refused to run for the post, citing his young family and his commitment to his job as head of the House Ways and Means Committee. However, after he insisted on, and won, support from the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Ryan said that he would accept the job.

Ryan succeeds John Boehner, R-Ohio, who announced on Sept. 25 his decision to retire from Congress by the end of October.

Earlier this month, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who was widely expected to succeed Boehner, abruptly dropped out of the race in the face of a conservative revolt.

In a tearful farewell speech Thursday, Boehner said: "If anything, I leave the way I started: just a regular guy, humbled by the chance to do a big job."

—NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Paul Ryan is the 54th House speaker.