The 113th Congress is now in session. The gavels have been dropped in both the House and Senate. So, work on the People's Business has begun. The first bit of news was election of the speaker in the House., and at 1:20 p.m. ET the incumbent — Rep. John Boehner of Ohio — had enough votes to keep that post. Democrats, with the help of two independents, have a 55-45 edge in the Senate. Republicans control the House, with a 234-199 advantage in seats (there are now two vacancies).
The final score was Boehner 220, Pelosi 192, and all others 15. In the Republican column, Raul Labrador, Jim Jordan, Justin Amash, and David Walker each received a vote for Speaker; former Rep. Allen West attracted two tallies, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor garnered three. A handful of Democrats voted for someone other than Pelosi, including a lone vote for Colin Powell. It would have taken 17 Republican dissenters to force another round of voting, but when the moment came, the only two nominees from the House floor were Boehner and Pelosi. Any potential mutiny fell seven votes short. It's tough to beat someone without a proposed, named replacement in mind. At the GOP conference meeting last night, Boehner reportedly told the rank-and-file that he's through negotiating directly with the president, and pledged a return to normal order. Just prior to the vote, the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee blasted out a press release touting rules reforms they'd helped secure -- not exactly the behavior of a leader whose core members were plotting a dramatic revolt. The fact of the matter is that for all the dissention and frustration, no one else really wanted this thankless job. Those members most often discussed as possible alternatives to Boehner (Cantor, Ryan, Jordan, Price) all ended up voting for him. Funny, but kind of true:
Tough day for John Boehner, who learned he will have to serve two more years as Speaker of the House.— Josh Barro (@jbarro) January 3, 2013
I'll leave you with the words of the upper chamber's top Republican, who is helped the battlelines for the next six weeks (and two years, really) in an outstanding floor speech this morning:
Four straight years of trillion-dollar deficits and projected spending that no realistic amount of tax revenue could cover have put us at a crossroads: either we tackle our nation’s spending problem, or it tackles us. It’s that simple. And there is no better time to do the work we need to do than now. The bipartisan agreement we reached earlier this week was imperfect. I’m the first to admit it, especially the process. But aside from shielding 99 percent of my constituents and many of yours from the painful effects of a middle-class tax hike the President seemed all too willing to impose, it gave us something else: it settled the revenue debate for good. President Obama declared the other night that those he calls ‘rich’ are now paying their ‘fair share.’ So it’s time to move on. The President got his revenue, now it’s time to turn squarely to the real problem, which is spending. We all knew that the tax hikes the President campaigned on were never going to solve the problem. Now that he’s got them, he has a responsibility to put his preoccupation with taxes behind him and to work with us to actually solve the problem at hand. So it’s time to face up to the fact that our nation is in grave fiscal danger, and that it has everything to do with spending. This is a debate the American people want to have.
Republican messaging has been abysmally ineffectual in recent months -- more so than usual. Let's hope McConnell and Sen. Pat Toomey are charting a new course forward with their sharp framing over the last two days.
UPDATE - WaPo has compiled a full list of those who voted for someone other than Boehner or Pelosi.