Despite an attempt from within his own party to unseat him, Ohio's John Boehner was reelected Speaker of the House. The new Republican-controlled Congress is gearing up for two years of struggle with President Obama.
John Boehner narrowly won a third term as Speaker of the House of Representatives, despite fierce opposition, partially from within his own party. Boehner received 216 of 408 votes as an increasingly large group of House Republicans become disenchanted with the lack of fight he's put up against President Obama's immigration and healthcare policies.
According to congressional records, the last time more than 25 House members voted against a member of their own party for the Speaker position was 1859.
Mere hours after the vote, a senior Republican aide told Reuters news agency that Richard Nugent and Daniel Webster, Florida congressmen who had opposed Boehner, were stripped of their positions on the powerful House Rules Committee, which decides when and for how long a bill will be debated.
Boehner's detractors from within his own party more than doubled since the last vote for Speaker two year ago. One point of contention was the Speaker's perceived mishandling of a massive government spending bill last month.
"We didn't get 72 hours to read it, it was 1,600 pages and spent $1.1 trillion," said Representative Walter Jones of North Carolina.
The first big challenge Boehner faces in this congressional session is a bill to keep the Department of Homeland Security operating past February. The department was purposely left off December's spending bill in an effort to create political leverage to renegotiate Obama's executive order easing the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants.
Obama's uphill battle
Any attempt to block the order will likely draw a veto from Obama, threatening operations for one of the most important government agencies post-September 11.
President Obama wished the Republicans, who now control both houses of Congress, well, saying he expects "pitched battles" but that there are also "enormous areas of potential agreement."
One such battle is likely to be the Republican-backed Keystone XL pipeline project, which Obama has vowed to veto. Though he has only vetoed legislation twice in the past six years, the president is not hesitant to use the threat of a veto, along with other high-profile moves like the normalization of relations with Cuba, to show that he is still politically relevant despite losing Congress.
Obama plans to meet with Boehner, his Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and other members of congressional leadership next week as both sides prepare themselves for two years of clashes.
es/bk (AP, Reuters)