Ever since the modern GOP first won the House, in 1994, it's kept a rule: Members can only lead committees for three terms. There would be no decades-long hold on the gavels. But there might, from time to time, be waivers for members whose services were still needed.
This was supposed to be Paul Ryan's final term running the Budget Committee. (He ran it for two years and served four years as its ranking member, during the GOP's minority vacation.) But he -- and only he -- has gotten a waiver to stay on. There will be a Ryan Budget in 2013, and in 2014. Ryan himself has now lost a national election, and his endorsement of Rep. Tom Price did not help Price into a leadership role. It doesn't matter. The party will stick with Ryan.
"Paul Ryan not only deserves this, but the conference needs him," said Rep. Cory Gardner, a class of 2010 conservative from Colorado. The national expsoure of the election "enhanced his ability. it's enhanced his ideas. The American people are looking to him for ideas where before they might not have known who he was."
"He has much more prestige now," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. "Everybody else here, when I saw them after the election, I said: It's great to see you back! When I saw him I said: I hate to see you back! And we had a laugh over that. But this episode in his life will give him tremendous leverage to accomplish the budgetary challenges he'll face."
So what did it mean that a majority of voters, when faced with Ryan this month, did not vote for him?
"Well," said Gardner, "a lot of people did!"