WILKES-BARRE – John Boehner's narrow victory for a second stint as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives could spell trouble for the Republican Party as the 113th Congress moves forward.
U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, voted for Boehner during the tension-filled roll call Thursday afternoon. Boehner watched the fray from a site off the House floor. He didn't cast a vote – not even for himself.
Boehner won by a vote of 220-192 over former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat. Boehner needed a majority of the votes cast.
It's a large and diverse conference, Barletta said Friday. Some are more frustrated than others, and they're voicing their opinions. Some voiced that with their vote.
Twelve Republicans decide not to vote for Boehner; they cast their ballots for other Republicans, including some who are no longer holding office. One Republican responded present when his name was called.
Because of the size of our conference, 12 is not a significant amount, Barletta said. I'm sure their votes were based more on frustrations.
Barletta said many Republican representatives wanted to cut federal spending, but weren't able to . The reality is we can't control what the Senate and the White House do, Barletta said. John Boehner can't control that either, but some feel the Speaker should have more influence.
Barletta said the next battleground will be the debt ceiling. U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Lycoming Township, like Barletta, voted to avoid going over the fiscal cliff. But Marino said this week that raising the debt ceiling is a whole new ballgame.
That's why many political analysts expect gridlock to return to the Hill when Obama comes calling with the request to raise the debt ceiling.
We've managed to accomplish quite a bit, seeing as we are only one-third of the process, Barletta said. Now we are putting the focus on cutting spending.
Barletta said the Republican-controlled House has passed a budget each of the last two years – something the Senate has not done. He said the GOP has offered a blueprint on how to get the country out of debt and back on a solid financial track. He said his party also has offered long-term plans for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
Barletta gave credit to Boehner for allowing members to stand up and speak their minds. And he doesn't hold anything against anyone who opposes him, Barletta said. That's a sign of a confident leader – one who's not afraid of criticism.