Boehner Takes the Gavel

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 5 2011 2:10 PM

Boehner Takes the Gavel

Speaker of the House John Boehner is giving his maiden speech from the chair right now, and John Dickerson will cover it in full later. In the meantime, here was the scene inside the House.

Nancy Pelosi's speech was well-received, for the most part, but there was visible tension in the GOP section of the floor when Pelosi read out a litany of the bills passed by the 111th Congress. I heard a groan, which I couldn't quite place, as Pelosi mentioned the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, such as "children not being denied health care because of pre-existing conditions," and the CBO's estimate for how much Democrats had saved Americans in tax cuts. Almost no Republicans applauded when Pelosi mentioned the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. There was a lot of smiling-through-annoyance, and a slightly smaller level of document-checking and cell phone-checking.

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The reception for Boehner's brief speech, including his promises for a slower, more deliberate Congress, was not as divided -- it was rapture all around. Among the people in the seats closest to the chair were Rep. Michele Bachmann, right next to Rep. Peter King. Among the non-members on the floor: Mitch McConnell, Dan Quayle, and Joe Scarborough -- a congressman from Florida in his former life.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.