House Speaker John Boehner was re-elected to his leadership post Thursday, on the first day of the 113th Congress. The start of his new term follows months of tense negotiations with both President Barack Obama and members of his own party to avert the fiscal cliff, and it may not present better hope of accomplishing his goals.
Boehner was unanimously elected to the position by his party in 2011, but Thursday 12 Republicans neglected to vote for him. Nine voted for other candidates that included House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Rep. Raul Labrador; two refrained from voting; and one merely said, "Present."
The Ohioan has been tasked with leading an increasingly fractious party, with extremely conservative members at times opposing him just as much as the Democrats. He failed to rally Republicans around his "Plan B" fiscal cliff proposal and eventually called off a vote on the plan after recognizing he wouldn't garner enough votes from his own party to pass the bill. He was then forced to remove himself from negotiations with Obama on the cliff, passing the onus to the Senate with the White House instead working with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Some have speculated as to why Boehner even wants to keep his job as speaker, after all the frustrations of his first term. His communications director said he wants the opportunity "to do something big:"
He's been here for 22 years, and becoming speaker is the first time he's had a real serious opportunity himself to lead an effort to do something big for this country in terms of getting spending under control. He wants to do something big on entitlements, and he wants to do something big on tax reform. That's why he's here.
But the Republican Party may be too fractured for Boehner to be able to accomplish these goals. Writing for U.S. News, Hunter College's Jamie Chandler said the speaker is unlikely to be able to take meaningful control of Republicans:
John Boehner's influence—his ability to enforce party discipline—has waned … [T]he party is far too ideologically divided; the gulf between moderate and conservative Republicans has grown so wide, that the party is speeding toward self-destruction.
Boehner has pledged to address the deficit as he and Republicans yet again butt heads with Democrats on the debt ceiling and other budget issues that failed to be addressed in the fiscal cliff deal.
What do you think? Will John Boehner be able to effectively lead the 113th Congress? Take the poll and comment below.
- Read Susan Milligan: Boehner's Reid ‘F-Bomb' Isn't a Big Effing Deal
- Read Leslie Marshall: The Healthcare Lessons Mark Kirk Learned From His Stroke
- Check out U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad.