Despite weeks of bitter Republican infighting, public division within the House GOP caucus, and rumblings of a possible power struggle, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is not expected to face any serious challenges to his leadership today, when House members reconvene on Capitol Hill to kick off the 113th Congress.
Boehner, who over the past several weeks struggled -- and ultimately, failed -- to wrangle his caucus members around a deal to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff," has recently taken a bruising even from members of his own party: Many Republicans strongly objected to the ultimate "fiscal cliff" deal, which included tax hikes for the wealthy, and several prominent House GOP leaders -- including Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. -- voted against it.
What's more, the speaker made a series of seemingly unforced political errors in the final days of the 112th Congress: Shortly before Christmas, he attempted to garner support for a last-minute "Plan B" to President Obama's "fiscal cliff" plan, but couldn't get his party on board. And on Tuesday, he decided at the last minute to delay a vote for a bill providing relief aid for superstorm Sandy. Within hours of the "cliff" vote, House Republicans Peter King and Michael Grimm, both of New York, and Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., were on television lambasting Boehner for his inaction on the Sandy bill. King and Grimm also suggested defection from Boehner's bid for re-election as speaker.
"Last night, politics was placed before our oaths to serve our citizens. For me it was disappointing and disgusting to watch," Christie told reporters in remarks at a press conference. "I can tell you is this was the speaker's decision -- his alone."
Despite the obvious contention, however, there is little evidence that another candidate for Speaker of the House could rack up sufficient votes to pose a serious threat to Boehner's leadership, nor is there evidence of a building revolt: Yesterday, following Christie's public vitriol, Boehner partially reversed his decision on the Sandy bill and scheduled a vote for Friday; King and Grimm were quick to announce their public support for both the decision and Boehner's leadership.
Meanwhile, in a concession to the caucus members who were disappointed by the "fiscal cliff" deal, the Hill reports that Boehner is telling Republicans he's through with one-on-one negotiations with the president.
"He is recommitting himself and the House to what we've done, which is working through regular order and letting the House work its will," an aide to Boehner told The Hill.
Even if some Republicans are unhappy with Boehner's leadership, there's no clear candidate to challenge him for the job. As majority leader, Cantor is the next in line, but according to an aide he is not considering throwing his own hat into the ring, and no other high-ranking Republican is signaling a bid. A challenge from someone on the far right of the party would inevitably struggle to get sufficient support to pose a serious threat to the establishment.
As Grimm signaled yesterday, some Republicans appear ready to move on from the recent drama and get to work crafting their strategy for the next congressional session.
"We've been through some tough times," he told reporters . "We look forward."