Boehner tells GOP to 'sit back,' fiscal talks 'going to take a while'

Meeting with his conference for the first time since the election, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday told his troops to settle in for a long battle over the “fiscal cliff.” 

“Sit back, this is going to take a while,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said in characterizing Boehner’s message at the closed-door meeting.

The Speaker offered few new details on talks to avoid the fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending cuts, saying he expected the negotiations would intensify after congressional leaders meet with President Obama on Friday.

Boehner (R-Ohio) pleaded for the conference to stick together during the difficult fiscal talks to come.

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“The message is we had a better election cycle than the other group of Republicans,” Cole (R-Okla.) said, referring to the party’s losses in its bid for the White House and the Senate. “We need to stand on principles and we’ll stick together. There was a lot of determination and a lot of optimism going forward.”

“Look, this is not a down conference,” Cole added, “and quite frankly our performance was awfully good.”

House Republicans patted themselves on the back for holding their majority in an election year otherwise dominated by Democrats, and gave returning Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) a standing ovation for helping to carry the GOP banner as the vice presidential nominee. 

The room “exploded” when Ryan got up to speak, Cole said.

Ryan told reporters after the meeting that he told his colleagues it “was an honor” to serve on the Republican ticket with Mitt Romney.

“It was a great experience,” Ryan said. “It didn’t work out the way we wanted it to, but it’s great to return to all my friends, and I’m proud of the leadership the House Republicans provided the country.”

He declined to talk about the fiscal cliff, saying "there'll be plenty of time to talk about that stuff later."

House Republicans will meet again later on Wednesday to elect their leaders for the 113th Congress.