Republicans in the House of Representatives Wednesday formally made John Boehner their pick to lead the chamber when they take control of it from President Barack Obama's Democrats on Jan. 5.
Boehner is virtually certain to be elected speaker by the full House on that day, replacing Democrat Nancy Pelosi and making him the face of Republican opposition to Obama.
"This is the dawn of a new (Republican) majority, one I believe will be humbler, wiser, and more focused than its predecessors on the priorities of the people," Boehner told a closed-door meeting of Republicans, according to an aide.
Republicans captured the House and reduced Democrats' Senate majority at midterm elections two weeks ago, largely because of voter anger at unemployment.
"For the good of our nation, and the hopes and dreams of future generations, we have to get this right," said Boehner, who as speaker will become second in the line of succession to the U.S. presidency, behind only Vice President Joe Biden.
Obama and Boehner will be forced into an uneasy political coexistence as Americans hope the two sides will work together after giving Republicans increased power in Congress in the Nov. 2 elections.
The stage is set for possible political compromises to address the ills of the U.S. economy but it is unclear if Obama and the Republicans can agree on issues where they remain far apart, such as on taxes, government spending and reducing the $1.3 trillion deficit.
The relationship got off to an uneasy start when a White House meeting scheduled for Thursday between Obama and congressional leaders, including Boehner, was postponed until Nov. 30 at Republican insistence.
PELOSI DEFEATS ONLY CHALLENGER
House Democrats decided Wednesday to keep Pelosi as their leader next year. Rejecting complaints that she was to blame for them losing control of the chamber, Democrats voted for Pelosi to be minority leader, 150-43, defeating her only challenger, moderate Representative Heath Shuler.
Republicans made Pelosi a major issue in the 2010 congressional campaign, charging that her liberal policies were outside the political mainstream and that she did not do enough to help the sluggish national economy recover.
But most House Democrats rallied to Pelosi's side, noting that she helped Obama win passage of landmark legislation the past two years, including measures to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system and a crackdown on Wall Street excesses.
Pelosi, who lea Democratic efforts to win control of the House from Republicans in 2006, said party members have confidence that she can deliver.
"They know that I am the person that can attract the resources -- both intellectual and otherwise -- to take us to victory because I have done it before," Pelosi said.
Shuler, seeking to move his party toward the political center, sounded philosophical in defeat.
"It wasn't about our winning or losing this race but truly making a difference within our (House Democratic) caucus to -- to ensure that moderates are heard," Shuler said.
"I think that's what most of America would ask: that our caucus move in that direction," Shuler said. "We have to be able to communicate to the American people in order to win back" the House in 2012.
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