Despite facing criticism from his own party over his handling of the fiscal cliff, Rep. John Boehner kept his job as Speaker of the House Thursday in a close vote that reflected his shaky standing among party conservatives.
The 113th Congress convened for the first time on Thursday and re-elected the Republican congressman from Ohio for his second term in office.
In an address to lawmakers, Boehner spoke of the importance of solving the debt crisis and creating more jobs. He also issued a warning to newly-minted congressmen and congresswomen—governing is hard.
“Public service was never meant to be an easy living. Extraordinary challenges demand extraordinary leadership. So if you have come here to see your name in lights or to pass off political victory as accomplishment, you have come to the wrong place. The door is behind you,” warned Boehner, who speaks from experience after presiding over the so-called “do nothing Congress” in his last term.
“If you have come here humbled by the opportunity to serve; if you have come here to be the determined voice of the people; if you have come here to carry the standard of leadership demanded not just by our constituents but by the times, then you have come to the right place,” he said.
The Republican-controlled House gave Boehner 220 votes out of 426. He needed to win the majority of votes cast to land the role.
While widely expected to retain his post, there was some speculation it could come down to a second ballot vote—which would have been the first of its kind since 1923— if 17 conservatives decided to vote against Boehner.
Only nine Republicans voted against Boehner: Rep Justin Amash, R-Mich., Rep Walter Jones, R-N.C., Rep Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., Rep Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Rep Paul Broun, R-Ga., Rep Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan. , Rep Thomas Massie, R-Ky., Rep Steve Pearce, R-N.M., and Rep Ted Yoho, R-Fla.
As recent as Wednesday, Republicans in Hurricane Sandy stricken areas slammed the Speaker’s leadership for unexpectedly canceling a vote late Tuesday night on a relief package for storm victims. After coming under fire, Boehner rescheduled the vote for Friday.
But staunch conservatives remain furious at Boehner for backing the fiscal cliff bill which allowed the Bush tax cuts to expire for families making more than $450,000 and doesn’t significantly cut spending.
Democrat Nancy Pelosi also kept her role as House Minority Leader Thursday with 192 votes.