By Tony Perkins
This first snowfall of 2015 may have put the brakes on D.C. drivers, but there was no stopping Republicans from taking the wheel of the 114th Congress. While schools and roads were closing, the House and Senate were officially open for business, swearing in more than 70 new members in the first GOP-controlled Congress in eight years.
After classes on everything from the Capitol floor plan to parliamentary procedure, this class of freshmen will hit the ground running on votes for everything from the Keystone Pipeline to ObamaCare eligibility. With the largest majority since 1928, hopes are high for Republicans to help right a ship that’s been adrift in a sea of lawlessness.
But first, the GOP has some challenges of its own to overcome — including a sharp divide over who should lead that charge and how. After about 48 hours of intense lobbying and behind the scenes meetings, John Boehner (R-Ohio) managed to keep his job as House Speaker when a majority of those present and voting selected him as leader. Over the past couple years, disagreements over spending, amnesty, and ObamaCare had driven a deep wedge between Republicans — deep enough for the grassroots to notice.
In a poll released this week, a whopping 60 percent of GOP voters thought Republicans should have selected a stronger conservative Speaker, one more willing to go to bat against the President’s agenda. That helped turn what was supposed to be a drama-free Speaker re-election into a full-blown battle against the status quo.
Unfortunately for 25 Republicans, that drama ended a little before 2 p.m. in a razor-thin vote that fell just short of conservatives’ goal. Despite their best efforts, Speaker Boehner survived the test and was reinstated as the House’s leader for a third time, which, conservatives hope, is the charm.
Just as citizens have a right to cast a vote for their leaders, so do Members of Congress. Now that they’ve exercised that right, and a majority (albeit a slight one) chose Boehner, it’s time for Congress to get started on their biggest job: uniting both chambers around the mandate voters gave them in November. I hope Speaker Boehner will work with the conservative members, including those who opposed him, to use the power of the purse to restrain the administration’s lawlessness. And we expect his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), will strive to do the same. Republicans are now in charge of Congress, but will they lead? Conservatives all across the nation certainly hope so.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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