Boehner, Pelosi Remain House Party Leaders

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WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  John Boehner, R-Ohio, was re-elected speaker of the House of Representatives and Rep. Nancy Pelosi chosen as the Democrats’ leader Thursday.

Members and their guests crowded the House chambers as representatives announced their votes.

After withstanding withering criticism over legislation to avert the “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and across-the-board spending cuts and the decision not to take up relief for Superstorm Sandy victims before the 112th Congress adjourned, Boehner received 220 votes Thursday.

Pelosi received 192 votes and 15 representatives either voted “present” or for someone else.

The House of Representatives has 233 Republicans and 200 Democrats. Special elections will be conducted in April and May for the vacant seats held by Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., who resigned, and Tim Scott, R-S.C., who was named by Gov. Nikki Haley to succeed Sen. Jim DeMint, who resigned from the Senate to lead the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

C-SPAN said this year’s freshman class in the House includes the first Hindu elected to Congress, Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and the first openly bisexual person elected to Congress, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

The 12-member freshmen class in the Senate includes the Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the first openly gay person elected to the Senate; and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, the first Buddhist, the first Asian-American woman and the first Japanese-born person elected to the Senate, Roll Call said.

Vice President Joe Biden, as president of the Senate, conducted a ceremonial swearing-in with each member just outside the Senate chamber.

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., returned to the Senate Thursday after suffering a stroke in January 2012. After re-learning how to walk over the last year, Kirk climbed the steps of the Capitol building, accompanied by Biden, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., among others.

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