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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.

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But, as word spread about what other concessions Boehner was prepared to make in the closed talks, such as putting “revenue” on the table (a term that could mean tax hikes), Republican opposition mounted. Many conservatives felt Boehner was giving too much away and had not won adequate assurances from the president that promised spending cuts would, in fact, take place.

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With the prospect of a first-ever default on the national debt looming, 66 House GOP conservatives refused to vote with Boehner and a mainly unified GOP leadership for the debt-limit deal. The measure passed 269 to 161, with the support of 95 Democrats. But the last-minute debacle damaged the reputation of House Republicans and contributed to the decision of credit rating agencies to downgrade the US's credit rating.

The debt-ceiling agreement also committed Congress and the White House to identifying an additional $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years or face automatic spending cuts, or  “sequester,” on Jan. 1, 2013. Again, Boehner negotiated privately with Obama to work out a deal to avert tax hikes and spending cuts that economists said would plunge the nation back into recession.

Two weeks ago, at least 50 GOP conservatives scuttled Boehner’s “Plan B,” which would have extended Bush-era tax cuts to most taxpayers but allowed taxes to rise on income of more than $1 million. Boehner’s inability to rally his own caucus behind the plan, an alternative to Obama's plan to cap extending Bush-era tax cuts at $250,000, ended Boehner's role in the negotiations, which flipped to the Senate. In the end, the House voted on a compromise debt deal worked out between Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Vice President Joe Biden.

The vote this week on the Senate deal threw House Republicans into even more disarray. Most committee chairs, including Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, voted with Boehner to support the Senate bill. But 151 Republicans – more than 60 percent of the caucus – including majority leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and majority whip Kevin McCarthy of California opposed the Senate bill, which called for the first hike in federal income tax rates in 20 years

Then, to cap an unusually bad week for House GOP unity, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Northeast congressional lawmakers publicly blasted Boehner’s decision late Tuesday night to cancel a vote on $60 billion in relief aid to victims of superstorm Sandy, a move that required the issue to be restarted in the new Congress.

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Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

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