House Speaker John Boehner’s prospects for a new term appeared secure Monday despite grumblings from tea party-aligned dissidents on the eve of a Republican takeover of Congress, while GOP leaders in both houses pointed toward a swift veto showdown with President Obama over the long-stalled Keystone XL pipeline.
Senate Republicans, winners of a majority in last fall’s elections, began laying down markers for legislative battles ahead. “Tax reform should not be used as an excuse to raise taxes on the American people,” wrote Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who will become chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee. “Any such effort is a needless distraction,” he added, pointedly rejecting a long-held view of the White House and many Democrats.
Tax reform was a distant target as congressional veterans and newcomers alike looked ahead to a day of pomp and ceremony beneath the Capitol Dome.
Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell’s ascension Tuesday to the post of Senate majority leader was automatic following his approval by rank-and-file Republicans late last year.
That wasn’t the case in the House, where the election of a speaker is the main event on any opening day’s agenda. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas put himself forward as a challenger, and roughly a dozen Republicans have announced they will oppose Boehner’s election. But that was far short of the number needed to put him in jeopardy.