GOP No. 1 keeps job as US Congress opens
APWASHINGTON -- The top Republican in Washington was narrowly re-elected to his powerful job as the new Congress opened for business, despite a mini-revolt in his own party over the “fiscal cliff” deal and a bruising fight over Superstorm Sandy recovery legislation.
January 5, 2013, 12:06 am TWN
The 113th Congress welcomed dozens of new members Thursday to long-festering national problems, deficits and immigration among them, in an intensely partisan and crisis-driven era of divided government.
House Speaker John Boehner kept his job in a government where President Barack Obama will soon be sworn in to a second term and his fellow Democrats control the Senate. Fourteen Republicans declined to vote for Boehner, a reflection of their unhappiness with his leadership, but several more defections would have been needed to deny him a first-ballot victory.
Next on the agenda for the new Congress is a vote on national flood insurance legislation to help victims of Superstorm Sandy, which battered New York and New Jersey communities in October.
Boehner promised the vote would take place Friday, changing course after he was blasted by members of his own party Wednesday for putting it off. If it passes as expected, the bill will create slightly more than US$9 billion in additional deficits.
A follow-up disaster aid measure, which Boehner has said will be brought to a vote on Jan. 15, would add US$27 billion — more if the bill grows, as seems likely, after it is reconciled with a US$60-billion Senate version.
The backlash over Boehner's handling of the Sandy legislation came on the heels of a near-rebellion by tax-opposing conservatives over a deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” a self-imposed Jan. 1 deadline for widespread tax increases and deep spending cuts to take hold. The deal finally passed late Tuesday to raise taxes on the richest Americans while protecting the middle class and the poor.