In an emotionally charged moment during the opening act of the 112th Congress, a teary-eyed John Boehner of Ohio, took the gavel from Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, officially becoming the 61st House speaker.
In his speech to fellow lawmakers, Boehner vowed to give the government back to the people, renew focus on the Constitution and provide transparency, honest and accountability.
“Hard work and tough decisions will be required of the 112th Congress,” he said. “No longer can we fall short. No longer can we kick the can down the road. The people voted to end business as usual and today we begin to carry out their instructions.”
Lawmakers voted for Boehner as House speaker with 241 of 242 Republican votes. However, outgoing Pelosi faced a minor revolt from several of the 193 Democrats now in the minority.
While it’s traditional for the minority to vote its leader as speaker, even on the assumption the leader will lose, Pelosi was not the choice of 19 lawmakers. It was the largest number of defections for any formal candidate for speaker since January 1997 when nine Republicans voted against House Speaker Newt Gingrich. At that time, four voted for another member and five members voted present.