Washington - Ohio Rep. John Boehner is to become Speaker of the House Wednesday afternoon, and plans to set a conciliatory tone by telling the nation “The American people have humbled us.”
Boehner, 61, will preside over a House of Representatives with its biggest Republican majority in 62 years. Republicans gained 63 seats in the November election.
And despite the sharp partisanship that’s been evident in Washington for years, Boehner pleaded for civility. Excerpts of his remarks, due to be delivered after he is elected Speaker, were released Wednesday morning.
The American people, he was to say, “have refreshed our memories as to just how temporary the privilege to serve is. They have reminded us that everything here is on loan from them.
“That includes this gavel, which I accept cheerfully and gratefully, knowing I am but its caretaker. After all, this is the people’s House. This is their Congress. It’s about them, not us.”
Also due to speak later Wednesday was Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Speaker for the last four years, she is expected to become minority leader.
She, too, is expected to try to set a gentler tone.
“Our most important job is to fight for American jobs,” Pelosi is to say. “And so Democrats will judge what comes before Congress by whether it creates jobs, strengthens our middle class, and reduces the deficit – not burdening future generations with debt.
“When the new Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and the new Republican majority, come forward with solutions that address these American challenges, you will find in us a willing partner.”
Boehner also made it clear the economy and the federal budget are his top priorities.
“Our spending has caught up with us, and our debt will soon eclipse the size of our entire economy. Hard work and tough decisions will be required of the 112th Congress,” he said.
“No longer can we fall short. No longer can we kick the can down the road. The people voted to end business as usual, and today we begin carrying out their instructions.”