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Republicans Take Control Of House, Boehner Elected Speaker

Tracy Bloom |
January 5, 2011 | 1:27 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

The 112th Congress convened on Wednesday, marking a shift in power in Washington, D.C. as Republicans took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in four years. Newly elected Speaker of the House John Boehner took the gavel and promised to usher in an era of transparency and change.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (Creative Commons)
Speaker of the House John Boehner (Creative Commons)
“We will honor our Pledge to America, built through a process of listening to the people, and we will stand firm on our Constitutional principles that built our party, and built a great nation,” said Boehner. “We will do these things, however, in a manner that restores and respects the time-honored right of the minority to an honest debate — a fair and open process.

In his first remarks as Speaker, Boehner did little to hide his disgust with how ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats ran the House the past four years. “There were no open rules in the House in the last Congress. In this one, there will be many,” he said. “With this restored openness, however, comes a restored responsibility. You will not have the right to willfully disrupt the proceedings of the people’s House. But you will always have the right to a robust debate in open process that allows you to represent your constituents, to make your case, offer alternatives and be heard.”

However, Boehner also expressed a willingness to work with the minority Democrats, promising them "an honest debate" and "a fair and open process."

Pelosi reiterated that Democrats were ready and willing to work with Republicans. "We extend the hand of friendship," Pelosi said. "But where we cannot find common ground, we must stand our ground."

Among the first order of the Republican-controlled House will be the passage of a new set of rules that will include the stipulation that all legislation be required to include a "Constitutional Authority Statement." The statement will have to specify the section of the Constitution that allows for the bill to be passed. 

To go along with that, Republicans will read the Constitution aloud on Thursday, something that apparently has never been done in the 221-year history of the chamber.

In an effort to curb spending, GOP leaders will also require new spending bills be offset by spending cuts. However, they have also stipulated that new spending cannot be funded by tax increases.

Republicans also announced on Monday efforts to repeal President Obama's health care reform laws. A vote was scheduled for January 12.

On the Senate side, Democrats maintain control for the 112th session, but with a reduced majority. The Hill reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) would have more leverage in dealing with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), although the fundamental relationship between the two men appears unchanged.

“They are as close as two people with limited social skills can be,” said a Senate Democratic aide.



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