(Bloomberg) — John Boehner must find a way to lead the U.S. House of Representatives after winning a third term as speaker with votes from fewer than half of the chamber’s 434 members.
Boehner was re-elected as the 53rd House speaker yesterday although 25 members didn’t show up to cast votes and 24 of his fellow Republicans supported someone else. He won with 216 votes to 164 for Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. No Democrats supported Boehner.
The Ohio Republican quickly dished out payback to some of the party members who voted against him, kicking two off the influential Rules Committee and stopping a third from sponsoring a bill.
Boehner will be tested in coming weeks as he and new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, prepare to confront President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats on issues including approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Later in the year, they’ll need to address government spending and raising the U.S. debt limit.
Republican Daniel Webster of Florida, who received 12 votes from members of his party, said after the speaker’s vote that he hoped a message had been delivered that rank-and-file Republicans want a more “member-driven legislative process.”
“I’ve been a speaker. I’ve been a majority leader,” Webster said in an interview, referring to his time in the Florida statehouse. He said he was seeking to show that leaders need to listen more to their members’ concerns.
Boehner, in a short speech after the vote on the first day of the 114th Congress in Washington, urged House members to “prove the skeptics wrong” and find common ground on legislation.
“This won’t be done in a tidy way. The battle of ideas never ends and frankly never should,” said Boehner, 65.
The returning Republican members of the House Rules panel were announced after the speaker’s election. Absent from the list were Webster, who voted for himself for speaker, and Rich Nugent, who also voted for Webster.
The two lawmakers, who served on the Rules panel in the last Congress, were on the list to be reappointed until they voted against Boehner, according to a House leadership aide who sought anonymity.
“Sometimes there are casualties and changes, and people make decisions,” said Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican. “They make decisions to do things knowing sometimes there can be consequences.”