Republican John Boehner of Ohio on Tuesday survived a challenge by the conservative Tea Party wing of his party to win re-election to a third term as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Boehner then called on House members to prove wrong skeptics who believe that Congress is mired in gridlock, asking them to look for common ground to address the nation's problems.
The process of electing a speaker for the 114th Congress got off to a tense start for Boehner and his supporters. In a roll-call vote, most Democratic members of the House supported their minority leader, Nancy Pelosi. On the Republican side, 25 conservative members showed their dissatisfaction with Boehner by voting for someone else. Tea Party opponents of Boehner have accused him of not doing enough to cut government spending.
But in the end, Boehner won re-election with 216 of the 408 votes cast, while Pelosi, of California, received 164. Pelosi, who was the first female speaker of the House, introduced Boehner and ceremoniously handed the large speaker’s gavel to him.
“So, my fellow colleagues of the 114th Congress," she said, "let us uphold our deep and different convictions, but let us honor our common obligation to our country. In this Congress, we will do so under the leadership of Speaker John Boehner." The announcement drew applause and cheers.
An emotional Boehner fought back tears, saying he refused to accept the pessimism of those whose say Washington is too divided to accomplish anything.
“Along the way, we may falter, but we Americans do not fall away from the task. We do not quit. So let’s stand tall and prove the skeptics wrong," he said.
Boehner will be boosted by the strongest Republican majority in the House in decades, and by a new Republican majority in the Senate. The Republican leadership in Congress, howeve, is likely to soon clash with President Barack Obama on environmental regulations, health care reform and immigration.