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US House Speaker Boehner Reelected Despite Dissent

House Speaker Boehner Re-elected Despite Dissent from Republican Caucusi
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January 04, 2013
Following a rough first term, with battles over taxes and spending cuts, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner has won re-election to that post. Analysts say the Republican leader will likely face more turbulence, with some members of his own party rebelling against him and any compromise with President Barack Obama and Democrats. VOA Congressional Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Capitol Hill, where a brand new House and Senate have been sworn in.]]

House Speaker Boehner Re-elected Despite Dissent from Republican Caucus

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Cindy Saine
— After a rough first term, with battles over federal taxes and spending cuts, Republican John Boehner, has been reelected as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Analysts say he will likely face more turbulence, with some members of his own party against him and any compromise with President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.

There were some tense moments during the long voice vote for the new speaker of the Republican-controlled House, where there were only two names on the ballot -- Boehner, and Democratic former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as no other Republican stepped forward to challenge their leader.

Some members shouted other names in protest, such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell and outgoing Tea Party-backed Republican Representative Allen West.

When the votes were counted, despite 10 protest votes against him, Boehner defeated Pelosi -- 220 to 192.  Pelosi congratulated Boehner, and called for Democrats and Republicans to work together.

"Speaker Boehner, I know all too well, that we will not always agree, but I hope with all my heart that we will find common ground," Pelosi said.

In a sign of likely clashes to come over cuts to social welfare programs supported by Democrats, Boehner indicated that his focus will remain on reducing the country's soaring national debt.

"Our government has built up too much debt; our economy is not producing enough jobs -- and these are not separate problems," Boehner said.

In the recent fiscal cliff battle, Boehner faced dissension within Republican ranks and had to rely on Democratic votes to pass a bill this week intended to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

Analyst Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution says Boehner has had a rough time from the very beginning with some anti-government Tea Party members of his own conference.

"I mean the bottom line is, he [i.e., Boehner] is not weakened because he was never strong," Mann said.

Some fiscally conservative Tea Party groups tried to stage an action on the House floor to stop Boehner from being reelected, but it faltered.

Ron Meyer of the grassroots group American Majority Action strongly opposes Boehner.

"The fact is that he purged conservative members from their committees earlier this month.  He proposed his own tax hikes, $800 billion worth, John Boehner did.  He does not represent the conservative movement, and we need somebody who does, who can make an articulate case for why people should follow the conservative movement, why they should believe in free market economics," Meyer said.

Analysts say the next big showdown on Capitol Hill will likely be a fight over raising the U.S. national debt ceiling, which is expected within the next few months.  And they say that this battle could also put Boehner in a difficult position with his fellow Republicans.

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