Incoming House Speaker John Boehner — already famous for his crying stints — let the waterworks flow Wednesday as he assumed the Speaker’s chair from outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
ABC News reports that Boehner broke out in tears no fewer than three times during the ceremony on Capitol Hill — once as he walked down the aisle to applause, again as Pelosi read her introduction, and finally as he took the podium.
And Boehner was apparently not alone — his relatives teared up too, AP reports.
It is known to bug Boehner that he can’t keep it together at big moments, but apparently it runs in the family. At the moment Pelosi transferred power to her successor, at least six hankies had been deployed by Boehner’s proudly weeping family members watching from the gallery overhead.
For her part, Pelosi took a jab at Boehner for requesting an oversized gavel for his role as Speaker.
“I now pass this gavel, which is larger than most gavels here, but the gavel of choice of Speaker Boehner, I now pass this gavel — and the sacred trust that goes with it — to the new Speaker,” Pelosi said.
The speakership caps a remarkable rise for Boehner, whose office regularly peppers reporters with accounts of his hardscrabble early life as the second of 12 children in a working-class family from Ohio — 10 of whom watched from the House visitors’ gallery as he took the oath of office.
Boehner has led House Republicans in lockstep opposition to Obama’s policies, notably his signature overhaul of US health care, which the new speaker has vowed to target with a symbolic repeal vote on January 12.
As speaker, and backed by Republican committee chairs, he will enjoy vast powers to shape the agenda in Washington and hamstring the White House through to Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012.
But with Democrats still in control of the Senate, and Obama still holding a veto, the Ohio lawmaker will have to harness his considerable deal-making powers to enact key parts of the Republican platform.
Republicans have vowed to slash spending, scrap “job-killing” government regulations, overhaul the tax code, crack down on undocumented immigration, cut diplomatic and foreign aid funds, and investigate the administration.
Obama and his Democratic allies, meanwhile, have attacked the dapper, perpetually tan-looking golf enthusiast as a consummate political insider and key architect of the economic policies that fostered the painful recession.
During an early September visit to Boehner’s home state, Obama blasted the lawmaker as having “no new policies” and “no new ideas” and peddling “the same philosophy that led to this mess in the first place.”
— With AFP