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House speaker vote: John Boehner wins reelection after tough few weeks (+video)

John Boehner's reelection to a second term as House speaker followed failed negotiations with Obama, a divisive fiscal cliff vote, and a bashing over delays in relief aid for superstorm Sandy.

By Staff writer / January 3, 2013

Speaker of the House John Boehner bangs the gavel during the first day of the 113th Congress at the Capitol in Washington Thursday, Jan. 3. Despite a rocky few weeks, Boehner won re-election as speaker of the House of Representatives on Thursday.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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WASHINGTON

Rep. John Boehner won a second term as speaker of the House of Representatives in the first order of business for the 113th Congress, which convened Thursday.

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While the Ohio Republican ran unopposed to keep his job, his reelection was not without a churn of rumor and controversy. Conservatives in his party, unhappy with his negotiations with President Obama over the “fiscal cliff” and other issues, sought to muster just 17 GOP dissenters to force a second ballot and perhaps his withdrawal from contention for the speakership.

But, in the end, these efforts came to naught, and Mr. Boehner won on a voice vote, 220 to 192.

Addressing the 113th Congress after his reelection, Boehner embraced the traditional party line on fiscal issues. “Our government has built up too much debt,” he said. “Our economy is not producing enough jobs. These are not separate problems.”

Still, there was enough deep-rooted dissent in House GOP ranks in recent days to make threats of a challenge plausible now or in the future. But beyond threats to demand a secret ballot for Thursday's speaker vote, no one stepped forward to publicly challenge Boehner's second term.

Grumblings about Boehner’s leadership had been building for more than a year.

Boehner’s first election to be speaker in 2011 had the feel of a victory lap: Republicans had just reclaimed control of the House with 63 new GOP members after a landslide midterm election.

But the difficulties of fulfilling promises to voters to cut deficits and roll back government took a toll on party unity. Battling charges that they were extremist and obstructionist, House Republicans lost six seats in November 2012 elections but kept their majority, 235 to 199.  

Still, public approval ratings of Boehner fell to 29 percent, compared with 54 percent for President Obama, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Over time, internal GOP dissent increased, especially as Boehner began private negotiations with Mr. Obama over issues ranging from raising the debt limit in the summer of 2011 to, most recently, averting the fiscal cliff, some $600 billion in tax hikes and automatic spending cuts that were set to take hold Jan 1, 2013.

House Republicans approved of the stand Boehner took early in the 2011 debt-limit talks: that for every dollar of increase in the national debt limit, Congress must find $1 in spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.

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