Ryan's budget plan: A bridge over the divide?

By By KEN THOMAS and LAURIE KELLMAN

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Paul Ryan says his 2-year budget agreement with Democrats is the equivalent of taking a few steps in the right direction.

For Republicans lacking a clear national leader, the deal also may be a way to span the GOP's divide.

And it could put the Wisconsin Republican — his party's 2012 vice presidential nominee — in the role of bridge-builder before next year's congressional elections.

The budget plan approved by the House capped a year in which Ryan pushed his fellow conservatives to recognize the realities of divided government.

Ryan could eventually try to succeed House Speaker John Boehner or jump into the 2016 White House race.

Some conservatives oppose the deal but it could help him make the case that Ryan can get things done in divided government.

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