On January 5, 2011, Republican John Boehner (OH) was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives for the 112th Congress. Boehner's election came as a result of the Republican electoral wins in November. Republicans now hold a 242-193 majority in the House.
Boehner promised a more open and transparent operational style than Republicans thought was available to them under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA). To that end, new House rules now require that every piece of legislation considered on the House floor must be cross-referenced with a citation in the U.S. Constitution that provides authority to do so. Additionally, Boehner added one elected leadership position to an incoming member of the Freshman class which went to newly elected Rep. Kristi Noem (SD).
Speaker Boehner has repeatedly stressed during interviews that the election was not about him or the Republican House Conference. Rather, it was about the electorate sending a message that they want Congress to focus less on partisan politics and more on jobs and the economy. As a result, Speaker Boehner has directed his newly elected committee chairmen to focus on guiding legislation through the process that will help stimulate the economy and create jobs for the unemployed. Look for those same committee chairmen to focus on two or three jurisdictional issues they believe can both garner consensus in the House and receive attention in the Senate.
From a staff perspective, House Republican leadership has brought back many senior and experienced hands from the private sector to help handle the day-to-day operations of the House. Early legislative goals will include roll backs of some of the legislation passed in the 111th Congress under Democratic control, including the health care reform bill. Primary focus will be on cutting spending across the board, beginning with a vote this week to roll back spending for cabinet agencies to 2008 levels. Once House Republicans have followed through on some of their campaign promises, they intend to slowly and systematically look for legislative opportunities to cut spending through the budget and appropriations processes, including a ban on congressional earmarks..