Republican U.S. Rep. John Boehner won re-election to a second term as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday despite a symbolic protest by recalcitrant conservatives - not to mention withering criticism from New Jersey's popular governor, Chris Christie.
Needless to say, it was not pretty.
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A dozen members of the House Republican conference indicated their preference to dump the Ohio lawmaker, perhaps because of his handling of the fiscal cliff negotiations with President Barack Obama, which merely sidestepped the looming sequestration cuts. Ten Republicans sided with someone else and two abstained.
Boehner was only narrowly re-elected by a vote of 220 to 192 votes for Democratic U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California. The small but persistent group of Republican rebels provided a measure of drama to what is typically a humdrum procedural affair every two years.
The Washington Post reported that Boehner's victory was the "closest any speaker has come to not securing a first-ballot victory since Newt Gingrich's narrow reelection in January 1997, following an ethics admonishment." A ringing endorsement for the veteran lawmaker, it was not.
Boehner, who is known for crying openly, barely held back tears following his election. "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," Boehner said in accepting re-election.
Boehner is not out of the woods, though. Earlier in the week, he and his colleagues in the majority were forced to endure the wrath of the most popular governor in the United States, Christie, whose hurricane-ravaged state has been waiting for Congress to approve billions of dollars in aid for homeowners who suffered losses during Sandy in 2012.
Boehner, who is responsible for scheduling for votes on legislation in the House, neglected to bring the aid package up for a vote during the fiscal cliff negotiations despite pleas from officials in New Jersey and New York.
"In our hour of desperate need, we've been left waiting for help six times longer than the victims of Katrina with no end in sight," an angry Christie told reporters, directing his remarks at House leaders including Boehner. "Sixty-six days and counting, shame on you. Shame on Congress."
Added Christie: "There's only one group to blame for the continuing suffering of these innocent victims: the House Majority and their Speaker John Boehner."
House leaders have reassured lawmakers from the two Northeast states they intend to take up an aid package on Friday. But it's clear that no amount of money - not even $60 billion - can smooth over Boehner's missteps, both with Christie and members of his own party.
Buckle your seatbelts. The next two years could get bumpy.
[Republican U.S. Rep. John Boehner was re-elected to a second term as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3, 2013. Mark Wilson/Getty Images News]