Paul Ryan’s official Speaker portrait unveiled at the Capitol

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The official portrait of former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was unveiled at the Capitol on Wednesday in front of a crowd of congressional heavy hitters, including current and former Speakers.

Speaking at the event, Ryan, who served as Speaker from 2015 to 2019, reflected on some of his proudest legislative achievements. He said the tax cuts Republicans passed in 2017 were his “white whale.”

“We fixed the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs), we dealt with opioid addiction, we funded cancer research, we rethought how to better fight the war on poverty,” Ryan said of his time as Speaker. “And we reformed our tax code for the first time in a generation.”

Ryan said the other “white whales” that got away from him were immigration reform and dealing with the nation’s debt.

“If and when we fix that — and I do urge you to fix that — I’m confident that America will be assured of another great century,” Ryan said to the crowd, which included current lawmakers, alluding to the ongoing debt ceiling talks.

The event was attended by the likes of current Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and former Speakers Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and John Boehner (R-Ohio).

McCarthy, who is locked in high-profile discussions with the White House over the debt ceiling, reflected on Ryan’s warnings about the level of U.S. debt during his career.

“Early on, Paul warned about the threats of the national debt. … I just wish more people had listened to you back then,” McCarthy said during remarks at the event.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also attended the event. McConnell applauded Ryan’s “remarkable” career in Congress.

“Generational tax reform was the culmination of decades of devoted work,” McConnell said. “The Speakership capped off a truly remarkable legislative career.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who chose Ryan as his running mate when he won the Republican nomination for president in 2012, was also in attendance.

Ryan announced he would retire from Congress in 2018. Democrats took over the House majority the following year in the middle of former President Trump’s tenure in the White House.

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